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Falcons coach Smith pleased with offence, Gonzalez's return

The Canadian Press

8/17/2013 7:13:16 PM

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith said after practice Saturday that he was pleased about the team's offence getting untracked Thursday night a 27-23 preseason loss at Baltimore, and just as happy about what -- or who -- is coming next.

Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez is expected to participate Sunday morning in the Falcons' final training camp practice, and play next week at Tennessee after missing the first two preseason contests and most of training camp with the permission of team officials.

The 37-year-old Gonzalez participated in the first three days of camp after team officials coaxed him out of a brief retirement.

"Tony will be participating as we stated earlier in training camp that he was going to play in the third preseason game," Smith said after the Falcons practiced for two hours in light right. "We're excited to have him back on the practice field."

The Falcons jumped out to a 23-7 lead against the Ravens before Baltimore won the battle of subs. Both the rushing and passing attacks were dramatically improved compared with their work in a 34-10 loss to the Bengals in their preseason opener.

"I thought that the areas we needed to improve in we did. We wanted to improve our running game, and I thought we did that," Smith said. "Our offensive line did a nice job, the backs were outstanding in terms of making the right decisions . . . for that half anyway, it was good."

Notes: Four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Roddy White sustained an ankle injury in Baltimore, and Smith confirmed that White will not play at Tennessee. He's not likely to play in the Aug. 29 preseason finale against Jacksonville as Smith typically does not play starters.