A veteran like Tony Gonzalez is supposed to be grizzled and full of gumption, so it's a little startling when he admits that he's still adjusting to his role in the Falcons offense.
A future Hall of Famer if there ever was one, Gonzalez has been a capable blocker his entire career, but his pass-catching was what made him such a coveted player and as a result, he spent more time with the ball in his hands than an angry linebacker in his face. In an offense where Michael Jenkins is starting because he's perhaps the finest blocking wide receiver in the league, it was only natural that Gonzo would be called upon to do a little bit more of that. In a refreshing and minty burst of honesty, he admits that it's been a struggle so far:
"I'll admit I'm still somewhat uncomfortable," said Gonzalez. "I'm learning a new offense, I'm making new friends, learning a new freeway system. All the things going into switching teams, I'm going through it right now and it's kind of tough, like being a rookie all over again."
Does that worry me in the slightest? No. Gonzo is still going to fix the little red wagon of every poor bastard who has to cover him in the red zone this year, and if he reels in less than 7 touchdowns I'm going to be stunned. He'll be a great target for Matt Ryan, a young quarterback whose list of options is now bristling with more weapons than Cold War-era Russia, and as previously stated, he's a very capable blocker. If he's having a little difficulty picking up the expanded blocking role, he'll have it sorted out by the time the season rolls around. If for some reason he doesn't, we can bring in Ben Hartsock, who I understand spent his off-season playing the role of a brick wall in a Broadway production of West Side Story.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that we're going to be perfectly fine. So is Tony Gonzalez. And he knows it, too:
"I think it's going to help make me a better player," said Gonzalez.
"You get in a whole new system, I'm blocking more at the point of attack, I have different route-running schemes and I'm working with a new quarterback. I think that helps you grow. When you're uncomfortable like that, or taken out of your element, you either adapt to it or you don't. When you see the talent on this team, you are motivated to adapt."
For some reason, the thought of Gonzalez as an even better player makes me even more pumped up for the season ahead. Care to weigh in on the Tony Transition?