|Sunday will be Tony Gonzalez's first trip back to Arrowhead Stadium, where he played for 12 seasons with the Chiefs. (US Presswire)|
Sunday’s game at Kansas City will be Atlanta’s first regular-season game under offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter.
After Matt Ryan set franchise records of 4,177 yards and 357 completions last year, it’s fair to assume the fifth-year quarterback may not of heeded advice from a new coach. Contrary to that notion, Ryan embraced Koetter and the two thrived throughout the preseason.
“Even though he’s a proven player, he’s open to the way I see it and my experiences,” Koetter told Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal Constitution. “It’s been a give-and-take relationship. We’ll see how it plays out but I’m happy with where it’s at.”
Though it was just the preseason, Koetter hinted he'd make the Falcons more of a passing team. In three preseason games, Ryan was 45 of 60 for 549 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.
“I think it’s really important the quarterback and play-caller are on the same page and can communicate,” Koetter said. “He’s a great communicator, and he can tell me what he likes and doesn’t like and why. Yet, he’s still open to coaching.”
Coach Mike Smith said hiring the right coach was crucial for Ryan’s progression. Smith gave the go-ahead on Koetter, in part because they had worked together in Jacksonville in 2007.
“I’m very impressed with how quickly they’ve gotten on the same page,” Smith told Ledbetter. “The one thing I think about Matt and Dirk is they’re very collaborative.”
Sunday homecoming: For Tony Gonzalez, Sunday’s game at Arrowhead Stadium could potentially stir some emotions with the former Chief star. Gonzalez spent 12 of his 15 years in the NFL playing for the Chiefs, where he had four seasons of more than 1,000 yards receiving and three seasons with at least 10 touchdown passes. The most impressive feat may be that in his 12 years in Kansas City, Gonzalez missed just two games.
“I’m sure it’ll be different for him going back there but once you get out there, I’m sure he'll let all those things kinda go to the side and just focus on doing his job and trying to play the position as best be can,” Matt Ryan told Ledbetter.
In three years with the Falcons, Gonzalez has only faced the Chiefs once – a 20-10 Falcons' preseason victory.
Falcons sign CB Dominique Franks, waive WR Toone: Atlanta waived injured WR Tim Toone on Thursday and signed Dominique Franks, whom the team had cut last week in order to trim the roster to 53 players. Franks had spent the majority of the preseason as the Falcons’ primary punt returner but when he was released, Toone was expected to fulfill that role. Coach Smith hasn't said who'll be returning punts on Sunday but WR Harry Douglas was listed atop the depth chart at the position for the Falcons’ game release.
“It’s really weird,” Franks told Jay Adams of AtlantaFalcons.com. “Sunday, I had a workout with Miami, so I’ve really just been out of town doing workouts and things like that. Luckily, I got the call from coach Smith [Wednesday] night to come back.”
Franks had 20 tackles and two interceptions last year in the Falcons secondary.
Neither fully participated in the team’s practices this week.
For more Falcons coverage, follow Mike Singer @CBSSportsNFLATL.