Philadelphia Eagles News

TE Gonzalez Will Test Eagles' D

An All-Pro tight end like Atlanta's Tony Gonzalez can be a quarterback's best friend, especially for a signal-caller like Chris Redman who will be making his first start since 2007 on Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

"He's a safety valve, there's no doubt about it," said cornerback Dimitri Patterson. "When in doubt, when in trouble, find the All-Pro tight end ... I'm pretty sure (QB Chris) Redman's being told that ...Make safe, sound decisions. Don't turn the ball over."

Redman looked in the direction of No. 88 on numerous occasions last week as the Falcons rallied to beat Tampa. In fact, Gonzalez finished the game with a season-best nine catches.

The 6-foot-5, 243-pound Gonzalez has settled in nicely since coming over from Kansas City during an offseason trade. He leads the Falcons with 61 receptions and his 666 receiving yards rank second on the team. He has really made his mark on third down. His 22 receptions for 251 yards in those situations ranks tied for third in the NFL.

Philadelphia's defense had trouble getting off the field on third down last week against the Redskins, at least through the first three quarters (8 of 13). Covering tight ends has been an issue throughout much of the year.

"It's a tough challenge," said veteran linebacker Jeremiah Trotter. "He's arguably one of the best tight ends to ever play. He's very crafty. There's not a defense that he hasn't seen. There's not a coverage he hasn't seen. He's seen it all. We've just got to try to contain him."

Patterson, who played with Gonzalez in Kansas City, agreed with Trotter.

"A smart, smart player," Patterson said. "He's built like a small forward, so therefore when the ball goes in the air he has that body type to shield you off. He's real good with his hands, with the ball and when he's not around the ball using his hands to get open.

"That's what makes him good - his craftiness and he has very, very dependable hands."

Gonzalez has faced the Eagles only three times in his illustrious 13-year career. He managed just two catches for 5 yards in a 37-31 Philadelphia win at Kansas City back in 2005. He posted four catches for 28 yards in 2001 and three grabs for 31 yards in 1998.

A 10-time Pro Bowl player, Gonzalez is the NFL's all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns among tight ends. He enters Sunday's game having caught a pass in 142 straight games. However, his focus is on helping the Falcons get a win to stay alive in the NFC playoff picture. You see, for all his records, Gonzalez has yet to win a postseason game.

"It's going to be a good challenge for us to contain him," Patterson. "I'll probably have a good work day ahead of me come Sunday. It's going to be a high-intensity game. I'm looking forward to it."

-- Posted by Bob Kent, 6:52 p.m., December 5

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