After participating in the first two days of practice Tony Gonzalez departed training camp. The Falcons had said they would grant Gonzalez who almost retired in the offseason time in training camp to spend with his family in California as his son Nikko 12 is playing football for the first time. Coach Mike Smith did not say when Gonzalez would return. He said the team is planning for Gonzalez to play only in the final two preseason games. The third preseason game is Aug. 24 setting up the possibility that Gonzalez will be gone for several weeks. "I don't want to get into details" Smith said of Gonzalez's absence. He also said he did not want to continue to update Gonzalez's status. Perhaps because Gonzalez will have an extended absence quarterback Matt Ryan took the proactive step prior to training camp to spend time in California with Gonzalez working out. (This also could have been inferred from a photo that Ryan's wife Sarah tweeted that included Gonzalez's wife October.) "I think its good" Ryan said of Gonzalez's unusual camp respite. "He had some previous stuff he had committed to before he decided to come back. He always maintains his shape really really well. He and I have a great rapport. We've worked together a lot. I was out in California prior to training camp to get some work with him as well. I think that timing and then the last couple of days its going to be plenty of time so it's not an issue at all." With Gonzalez gone the other players competing for his back-up spot -– rookie Levine Toilolo Tommy Gallarda Chase Coffman and Colin Cloherty -– will get plenty more reps in practice. Coffman and Gallarda got most of the reps with the first team on Saturday while Toilolo the teams fourth-round pick this year and Cloherty practiced with the second team. "I think it's a great opportunity for some of our young guys to step up and to work with the first unit" Ryan said "They're all hard workers and they all do a good job. It'll be interesting to see how things shake up these next couple of weeks."
Gonzalez leaves Falcons camp with no return set
Fox Sports South | Jul 28