Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 11/3/11
Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez, who's in the last year of his contract, is enjoying what may be his last season in the NFL. He just views himself as part of the offensive operation, he said. "Really our approach, week-in and week-out is really kind of similar," Gonzalez said. "We have our chunk plays and our quick-hitting plays." Then he just goes out and catches the passes. Gonzalez moved into second place on the NFL's all-time receptions list with a two-yard catch in the second quarter, of Atlanta's Week 7 win over the Detroit Lions. This season, Gonzalez has pushed his total to 1,104 career receptions. Last season, he became the first tight end in NFL history to record 1,000 receptions. Gonzalez holds a number of NFL records at the tight end position, including most career receiving yards, most career receptions, most receptions in a single season, most touchdown catches, most 100-yard receiving games and most 1,000-yard seasons. Gonzalez's has recorded 35 catches for 380 yards this season giving him 12,843 career receiving yards. He passed WR Irving Fryar for 13th place on the NFL's all-time receiving list in Week 7 and he is the first tight end, and 17th player in NFL history to have over 12,000 receiving yards in a career. The 11-time Pro Bowler is 246 yards shy of tying WR Steve Largent (13,089 yards) for 12th place. Gonzalez is 157 yards shy of becoming the first tight end and 13th player in NFL history to record 13,000 career receiving yards. While there appears to be a new record with every catch, Gonzalez remains effective and a target that must be addressed by defensive coordinators. Gonzalez has caught a touchdown pass in three of the Falcons' first six games, including a pair of scores in Atlanta's 35-31 victory over Philadelphia in Week 2. He also pulled down touchdown catches in back-to-back games at Tampa Bay on Nov. 25 and at Seattle on Oct. 2. He also leads the team with four touchdown receptions this season. The Falcons sent a second-round pick to Kansas City for Gonzalez. Since he was acquired in a trade in 2009, Gonzalez has posted 16 touchdowns, which is tied for the third-most by a tight end in the NFL during that time span. He has 188 receptions, which rank second in the League among tight ends behind Jason Witten (228) over that period. "It's been awesome, it really has," Matt Ryan said about having Gonzalez early in the quarterback's NFL career. "It's been unbelievable to have Tony. Certainly, he's brought a lot to us on the field. He's an incredible player." He is on pace for 80 catches and 869 yards this season. He has posted 12 consecutive seasons with 60-or-more catches, breaking WR Jerry Rice's record for 11 straight 60-catch seasons in 2010. "Off the field, he's been just as important. He's taught a lot of us, guys that were in year two, year three when he first got here, what it's like to be a professional and how you go about handling your business," Ryan said. "What it takes in terms of commitment and effort and mental approach towards the game. He's really helped me out personally and I'm fortunate to have had him the last couple of years."
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