Even in his absence, Tony Gonzalez generates a lot of talk and recognition. On Tuesday, the Pro Football Writers of America named Gonzalez this year's recipient of the "Good Guy" award and Falcons head coach Mike Smith said that honor demonstrates Gonzalez's first-class approach to everything he does, from practicing to dealing with the media.
"Everything Tony does is first class," Smith said.
And it's that kind of near-legendary work ethic that makes Gonzalez a future hall-of-famer and why Smith allowed his veteran tight end to miss this week's mandatory minicamp.
After 16 seasons of playing at the highest level, Gonzalez knows how to use the offseason appropriately in an effort to make sure when training camp rolls around, he's as prepared as any other player, if not more so.
Smith said he felt it was best to have Gonzalez, noted for his consistent high level of good health, to rest this offseason to ensure he's fresh when it really matters.
"Tony has been doing this for a long time," Smith said. "He's 37 years old. There's no reason for Tony not to be ... resting his body and getting ready for the regular season. Our main goal every year is to have our players ready for the first game and each player takes a little different path to get there. Tony's a lot different from these young players that haven't played a whole lot for us. "
In Gonzalez's absence, Chase Coffman has seen a number of reps with the starting offense and with his own health in a good place for perhaps the first time in his four-year career, he's doing a lot of good things. He's made a number of impressive catches during OTAs and during Tuesday's minicamp he notched another one.
Running a route in traffic up the middle of the field, Coffman had a pass come his way that appeared out of reach. With one arm extended, he stopped the ball's momentum, tapped it into the air and came down with the completion
It was a Gonzalez-esque play and Coffman continues to show that in Gonzalez' absence, he's making the most of his extra time on the field.