OTAs: Tony Gonzalez plans a trip to Super Bowl

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and tight end Tony Gonzalez get on the same page. Jason Getz/jgetz@ajc.com

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and tight end Tony Gonzalez get on the same page. Jason Getz/jgetz@ajc.com

FLOWERY BRANCH – Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez has heard owner Arthur Blank’s message, loud and clear.

Should veteran defensive end John Abraham be in attendance for all of the "Voluntary" OTAs?

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Now that the Falcons have posted back-to-back winning season, Blank has stated that it’s all about getting some rings.

Gonzalez knows that Blank was not talking about wedding rings, either.

“On paper right now, this is probably the best team that I’ve ever been on,” Gonzalez said after Wednesday’s OTA session. “It’s exciting. It’s good to know that we can go out there and accomplish some big things this year.

Running backs Jason Snelling, Dmitri Nance (30), Turner and Jerious Norwood line up to participate in a drill. Jason Getz/jgetz@ajc.com

Running backs Jason Snelling, Dmitri Nance (30), Turner and Jerious Norwood line up to participate in a drill. Jason Getz/jgetz@ajc.com

When I say that, I’m thinking Super Bowl.”

Gonzalez isn’t shy about talking about the team’s high aspirations.

“Why would I think any other way?” Gonzalez said. “Why would I, especially at this point in my career and with the talent that we have on this team. We can go a far ways if we want to, if we work the right way.”

Gonzalez hasn’t played on a team that’s won a playoff game, but he was on the 2003 Kansas City team that posted at 13-3 regular season record and had the AFC’s No. 2 seed. They were upset by the Indianapolis Colts 38-31 in the divisional round of the playoffs.

Gonzalez believes the Falcons are on par with those Chiefs who featured record-breaking seasons by running back Priest Holmes, quarterback Trent Green and returner Dante Hall.

“I know that offensively, we are comparable to that 2003 team out there in Kansas City when we had a lot of Pro Bowlers on that side of the ball,” Gonzalez said. “We have that same talent on the offensive side of the ball.”

Smitty is expected a big bounce-back year from John Abraham  (Curtis Compton/compton@ajc.com)

Falcons coach Mike Smith is expected a big bounce-back year from John Abraham. But should he be at OTAs? (Curtis Compton/compton@ajc.com)

The Chiefs’ leaky defense failed them against the Colts. Gonzalez believes the Falcons defense has the potential to be much stronger unit.

“On defense with the pick up of Dunta (Robinson) coming in, (John) Abraham, (Curtis) Lofton and we have a lot of guys going into their third year,” Gonzalez said. “That third year is when it really clicks for you. There is really no excuse at that point.”

There has been a lot of talk about players making a big jump in their third year.

“You’ve had a chance to go out there and play,” Gonzalez said. “Now you are out there in that comfort zone. That’s when you start to hit your stride as a player. We have a lot of those types of guys on defense right now.”

Also, quarterback Matt Ryan is entering his third year.

“I think if he keeps playing the way he is right now and keep improving, I’ve always said with Matt, it’s not ‘if’, it’s ‘when’,” Gonzalez said. “It’s just up to him and to have us around him to make sure that our learning curve is accelerated. . . mentally, it’s a no brainer for him. . . I’ve got big plans for Matt this year. But it takes all of us coming together.”

Getting sized for your ring? Gonzalez is attending the OTAs, should defensive end John Abraham be at the “voluntary” workouts?

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135 comments Add your comment

Jim

May 27th, 2010
8:05 am

Now or never Tony.

TMoney

May 27th, 2010
8:10 am

With a lockout looking more and more likely next season, now is the ideal time to win. A lockout next season might just end the careers of Gonzo and Abraham.

Blue Fender

May 27th, 2010
8:18 am

I’m ready for some football!

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kay Kay and D. Orlando Ledbetter, ATLHOMER. ATLHOMER said: Atlanta Falcons – RT OTAs: Tony Gonzalez plans a trip to Super Bowl: Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and tight… http://bit.ly/drvEQA #AJC [...]

Paddy

May 27th, 2010
8:21 am

TMoney…I know the lockout picture looks dim now. But with so much money at stake on both sides, I see an agreement at the 11th hour like all labor disputes. When both parties realize that the checks are about to stop, cooler heads win out in the vast majority of cases. I don’t anticipate this to be any different.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

May 27th, 2010
8:25 am

Nobody wants to shoot the “Golden Goose.” The labor deal will get worked out. There’s just too much money involved.

TMoney

May 27th, 2010
8:32 am

Paddy – Too true. Most labor disputes do get resolved before a lockout or a strike can happen. However, this just seems like a situation where both sides are unwilling to budge. I don’t want a lockout, but right now, with both sides saying they don’t make enough money, there doesn’t seem to be any movement by either side.

FalconTransplant

May 27th, 2010
8:39 am

It’s not ‘IF’ but ‘WHEN’

Nice quote, I’m also expecting big things from Matt this year. But like TG said it’s up to the team around him to be productive when Matt finally hit his stride.

Who’s ready for some football?

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by D. Orlando Ledbetter and Darryl Ledbetter, D. Orlando Ledbetter. D. Orlando Ledbetter said: @DirtyBird4life You can vote on if Abe should be at OTAs. http://bit.ly/cDi1Pr [...]

Hamp

May 27th, 2010
9:02 am

A number of years ago Abe had a couple of years where he was hurt a lot. Every since he has skipped OTAs to attend the core training. He has been on the feild more so I say if smitty is ok with it

teamguy

May 27th, 2010
9:13 am

Concerning the labor dispute, eleventh hour will be too late to get my money for season tickets. I am not about to pay $2400 for replacement players. So if I’m not certain by June 1 that the “regular players” are going to play the games, I’m not re-upping. And my season ticket account has been on the books since 1968. I have just about had it with professional athletes anyway, so I’m really just looking for an excuse to boycott them all. A strike/lockout would just about do it for me and the NFL. The baseball strike that eliminated the World Series years ago marked the last penny I’ve spent on major league baseball, and, as much as I love the Falcons, a strike would end that.

Mike

May 27th, 2010
9:19 am

Maybe it’s part of being a fan of Atlanta’s professional sports teams, but whenever I hear players on the Braves, Falcons or Hawks talk about winning a championship, I roll my eyes and think to myself, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” So far, I’ve only believed one time (1995).

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

May 27th, 2010
9:21 am

if they didn’t want abe to lay out they should make it mandatory or do league rules prevent that this time of the year ? And I think he should be there with his team just to show hey this is the year lets all get it together . But he does have a choice , and he has done this before as i learned from Mr. Ledbetter yesterday.

tnfalcon

May 27th, 2010
9:25 am

I am really looking forward to this season. This team has the chance to be as good as any in the NFL and better than most. I am a true believer in the third year improvemnet of players. As far as John Abraham, even if his workout is limited his presence in the OTAs will send a good message to the newer players and help the team come together.

Sly Ty

May 27th, 2010
9:26 am

If the team stays relatively healthy, the falcons have as good a chance as any of the other elite teams. That is correct, the Falcons are an elite team. The Falcon games from last year continue to be shown on the NFL network channel, and many of the loses were games that could have been won had Jason Elam not been so eratic. Kicking will be better as well as the Defense.

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

May 27th, 2010
9:34 am

i hope the kicking is better . How are the kickers looking so far ?

NOLA

May 27th, 2010
9:34 am

Somebody please tell that guy football is not played on paper. This season will confirm what everyone in America already knows.

‘Cons are garbage.

truth

May 27th, 2010
9:41 am

FalconsTransplant…………..I AM!!! GO FALCONS!!!

Hey NOLA, I got a middle finger for ya……there ya go!

D. Orlando Ledbetter

May 27th, 2010
9:43 am

truth — Ignore NOLA. Don’t flip him off. I might have to start deleting you guys if you get into a cyber fight.

Gritz Blitz

May 27th, 2010
9:56 am

For the last few weeks, I’ve been telling friends and family that I think we may be going to the Super Bowl. As a life-long Falcon, I have never had such a feeling before in the off-season. Let’s go Falcons!

D. Orlando Ledbetter

May 27th, 2010
9:57 am

Gritz — Was that you on Sirius radio yesterday?

rekingball

May 27th, 2010
10:01 am

Can’t we all, just get along.

Gritz Blitz

May 27th, 2010
10:03 am

Sorry DOL, that wasn’t me.

Birdman

May 27th, 2010
10:04 am

DLed, did you find out about Babs suspension probability? Maybe you posted elsewhere?

**Frederick(Bailey)Douglass**

May 27th, 2010
10:04 am

Falcons are loaded. Let me say this:

This is the deepest team with the best coaching staff in Falcons history. Period.

The only thing that could muck this up is injuries…and I mean injuries to key parts like Ryan, Turner, White…or Lofton. Also, I DO expect Jenkins #12 to bounce back this year and contribute. He has the intangibles, experience and size. Time to make it happen like he did in Ryan’s first year (his contract year).

More than anything…I like our committment to size and depth on the O and D lines. Long-time Falcons fans know that we have lacked this throughout our dubious history…certainly in ‘98, some depth during the Glanville years, the best ever during the Gritz Blitz days…but generally we have been small and undermanned up front on both sides of the ball.

Not now though…things have changed.

Birds at least 12 games, spilt with Saints. Play to represent the NFC in the big Bowl. Don’t know if they will win just yet.

FBD

rekingball

May 27th, 2010
10:05 am

NOLA….does that mean a saints fan?

rekingball

May 27th, 2010
10:12 am

Fredy B. Douglas……agree with most of your comments. The Oline and Dline are the foundation of a team.
Have to disagree on the split with the saints. The Falcons will beat them in both contest in 2010.
I think the Falcons have the team to represent the NFC and will win the Superbowl in 2010.

Birdman

May 27th, 2010
10:16 am

I am all for high expectations, but in the interest of maintaining good karma, lets cease the SB predictions for this young team. Yes we seem to be rounding into a very talented team. We still have questions on both sides of the ball however. Can an SB run be near, of course it can, but no need to shout it out. Lets stay under the radar and beat teams without a lot of smack talk going on.

FalconsFan284

May 27th, 2010
10:22 am

NOLA—-It’s a good sign for a Falcons fan when someone that cheers for the Aints finds his way to a Falcons message board. It’s great because it shows you are worried. The Falcons played the Aints tougher then any team, outside of Minnesota, last year and nearly beat them twice. Drew Brees took advantage of our defense, that’s his job after all, but the defense has gotten better. If I were you, and thankfully I’m not, I would be worried about those Dirty Birds! At least Falcon Fans are honest fans and not band wagon jumpers.

rekingball

May 27th, 2010
10:22 am

The Falcons will win Superbowl XLV. And if I want to talk about it, I will talk about it.
If the saints can win the Superbowl, the Falcons can win the Superbowl.

rekingball

May 27th, 2010
10:33 am

cyber flipoff?

rekingball

May 27th, 2010
10:34 am

thats bad manners.

rekingball

May 27th, 2010
10:35 am

Or is that, cyber manners?

rekingball

May 27th, 2010
10:35 am

I mean, bad cyber manners.

Shananeeee Fananeeee

May 27th, 2010
10:36 am

Tony will need tickets to get into the Super Bowl. Arthur will not win a Super Bowl ring.

rekingball

May 27th, 2010
10:37 am

Shan Fan……Wrong!

The Real Truth!!!

May 27th, 2010
10:39 am

Tony Gonzales has lost his damn mind!!!! That KC team had a superstar Kick Returner, a 2000 yd, 25 TD rusher and a 4500 plus yd passer!!!! This Falcon team is not even in the same league with that taem!!! I know he is hear and wants to be the ra-ra guy but he is full of –ish on this one!

Karl

May 27th, 2010
10:41 am

I’m a believer, but staying healthy is the big key. I’m really concerned about P. Jerry, W. Moore, and Sam Baker. Apparently Jerry is still limping.

ChippersLoveChild

May 27th, 2010
10:43 am

Vets always say these things at the begining of the year, it’s their job to pump up the team and set high expectations.. the Falcons will be lucky to get out of the first round of the playoffs, much less go to a Super Bowl.

A yeea Yeaaah

May 27th, 2010
10:44 am

Ok, since we are going to the SuperBowl, we’ve got to come up with our own chant!

Any takers?

Jazzyk

May 27th, 2010
10:46 am

Orlando,
What’s your assessment of the Falcons’ offensive line and pass protection?
Do you think they’re undersized and if they are, what’s the front office going to do about it?

truth

May 27th, 2010
10:48 am

The Real Truth=NOLA. You can’t hide behind a name you coward.

Ok DLed I’m done with him, don’t cast me into cyber Hades or something.
:)

GO FALCONS!!!

Mitch (the one in Rome)

May 27th, 2010
10:49 am

I would like to see Abraham in camp unless he is dealing with personal issues. If it’s just because he does not have to be, that is a problem for a guy coming off of a sub par season. He needs to be setting the pace.

The Real Truth!!!

May 27th, 2010
10:54 am

truth

May 27th, 2010
10:48 am

Sorry to be the one to say it, but NOLA aint me! he may be a nice guy and it is apparent that he knows more about footbal or at least is more honest than some of the posters here, but I am not he :)

D. Orlando Ledbetter

May 27th, 2010
11:15 am

Birdman — Expecting to hear something from the league on Babineaux near the start of training camp. (Late July).

D. Orlando Ledbetter

May 27th, 2010
11:19 am

Mitch — nice line of reasoning.

truth

May 27th, 2010
11:33 am

Da Weal Twoof…..If not, ya’ll are two peas in a pot. Check it out guys we have a couple on board!! Would ya’ll like one queen bed or two fulls? Never mind…I know silly of me to ask. One queen it is!! You guys have fun!!! BWAA HA HA!!!

Sorry DLed, can’t help it but I’m not flashing the cyber bird. :)

dawgs01

May 27th, 2010
11:54 am

55 should be there. If you want to win a championship you got to put in the work. These players make all the money in the world but complain about practice or dont show up. I am not saying he is doing that he might have a valid reason i am just talking generally. Get to the camps 55

RobbE33

May 27th, 2010
12:01 pm

Just stop it, okay? We don’t need the jinx of the “favorite” role. If Tony wants to be quietly confident, that’s fine, but until we can establish ourselves as a consistently dominant presence on the field, let’s surprise a few teams before we start pasting targets on our backs. Respect cannot be spun from pre-season hyperbole. Take care of business and the accolades will come. And for Tony, I hope they come this year by the boat load!

RobbE33

May 27th, 2010
12:06 pm

John has shown a tendency to injuries and running out gas at the end of the season. I can’t blame Smitty for wanting him to take it easy. John knows what he’s doing. Give him a chance to keep doing it through December and into January by resting now.