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Thursday, September 26, 2013
Gonzalez won't lobby for more touches

By Vaughn McClure

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- At one point during his tenure with the Kansas City Chiefs, Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez griped about his lack of touches.

He didn’t pull a teammate aside. He didn’t ask to meet one-on-one with a coach.

Instead, Gonzalez used a tactic he instantly regretted: He went to the media.

"They put it on the front page," Gonzalez said. "They said, 'I want the ball.' That was the front in big, bold black letters. It’s a shame that it comes off like that. I was young back then too. I didn’t know they were going to print it like that.

Matt Ryan & Tony Gonzalez
Tony Gonzalez ranks second on the Falcons with 11 receptions this season.
"But in my defense, I’m a competitor. You feel like you can help the team out. It was never a selfish thing. And now, it would be silly for me to say something like that."

The subject of Gonzalez’s touches indirectly came up Thursday. During last week’s loss at Miami, he caught four passes on the Falcons’ opening drive that ended with Matt Ryan's 7-yard touchdown connection with Jason Snelling. Gonzalez was targeted just one more time the remainder of the game.

"When you have so many weapons like this, nobody can afford to be like, 'Hey, you’ve got to throw me the ball in order for us to win.' I’m not going to take that attitude because I know the caliber and the talent that we have on here," Gonzalez said. "It might have been different when I was in Kansas City. I would have come to you and been like, 'Yeah, I think I probably need to get the ball a little bit more.’ But with the guys we have on this team, it’s not like that at all.

"I will play whatever play is called. And if Matt puts the ball in the air, I will try my [hardest] to make the catch. And hopefully I can help this team win."

Although Gonzalez exited the Miami game for a play after banging his head, he said there was no concern about a concussion. And he said getting dinged up didn’t affect his performance.

"Just got the bell rung," Gonzalez said. "If I was in fight, somebody hit me right in the head on that sweet spot. ... It was just a little bit of dizziness."

With no health concerns, Gonzalez seems poised to have an impact Sunday night against the Patriots. So what would it take to get him back on track?

Maybe more touches, though he refuses to lobby for them. He stands second on the team in receptions with 11, 16 fewer than Julio Jones (27) and one better than running back Jason Snelling (10). Gonzalez has been targeted 19 times, second behind Jones (35).

The Falcons have struggled in the red zone, and Gonzalez would seem to be the ideal remedy because of his size and veteran savvy. But he’s not going to demand the ball.

"When you’re competitive player, you want the ball," Gonzalez said. "Don’t get me wrong: I want the ball. But it’s not a situation where I’m going to go to Matt or going to the coordinator or to anybody and say, 'Hey, they need to throw me the ball.'

"When the time comes -- and I know it will come -- they’re going to call my number. It’s going to happen throughout the game this week, next week. As long as I’m playing as a Falcon, it’s going to happen. So I’ve got to make sure that I’m ready to step and make that play when it comes."