FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Tony Gonzalez likely won’t rejoin his Atlanta Falcons teammates at training camp for another 7-10 days.
On Wednesday, Falcons head coach Mike Smith revealed the team’s plan for Gonzalez to FoxSportsSouth.com, saying the veteran tight end would play in the final two preseason games but also will have enough time to get ready for the 2013 campaign.
The coach, however, declined to give a hard-target date for the player’s return.
Smith believes Gonzalez would need at least a week to get ready for the third preseason game. For that week, the Falcons typically game-plan for that contest, while having their healthy regulars play well into the third quarter.
Atlanta’s third preseason game is Aug. 24 against Tennessee (in Nashville), meaning Gonzalez should return sometime around Aug. 17. He left training camp after the July 26 practice to make good on a previous family commitment.
In all, Gonzalez will miss about three weeks of camp.
Gonzalez, who opted against retirement last spring for one more run at the Super Bowl, made certain promises to his family — and son, Nikko. This year marks the 12-year-old’s first experience with organized football, and the elder Gonzalez wanted to be in California for the start of that.
In Gonzalez’s place during training camp, Chase Coffman and rookie Levine Toilolo are getting the bulk of the reps.