It didn't seem possible, but Tony Gonzalez is having one of the best seasons of his 16-year career. This season, he's third in the NFL among tight ends in yards, second in receptions and tied for fourth with four TDs. Gonzalez only needs one more to achieve 100 in his career, becoming the first tight end in league history and only the eighth player ever to record 100 touchdowns in their career.
Against the Saints on Sunday, Gonzalez anticipates a matchup that he's all too familiar with. Safety Roman Harper has typically lined up against the tight end in years past and No. 88 expects that to likely be the same.
"If you go on what they've done to me in the past, you'll probably see Roman Harper, he'll probably be guarding me a lot," Gonzalez said.
One interesting matchup he anticipates is when linebackers take on his assignment. He expects former teammate Curtis Lofton will be in the mix, but says the Saints have traditionally used a different linebacker in coverage.
"With linebackers, maybe I'll go against Curtis (Lofton) every once in a while, but more than likely it'll be Shanle or Harper," he said.
Harper is known more for his pass rushing abilities than his coverage in the NFL. Since 2006, his 17 sacks are the most by a defensive back in the league.
According to Pro Football Focus, Harper has a negative pass coverage grade this season. He's allowed 64 percent of the passes thrown into his coverage to be completed for 334 yards worth of gains. Harper's worst game of the season came in Week 1 when he defended Washington's Fred Davis. Of the yards he's allowed 247 have come after the catch, but he's only allowed one TD with his one
Shanle hasn't found himself in pass coverage much this season. He's only been targeted 11 times, but has allowed ten completions for 104 yards and one touchdown. Gonzalez said usually what he anticipates turns out to be different from what actually happens in games. He added that he anticipates safety Malcolm Jenkins covering him as well.