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Gonzalez: Ryan ready to join rare category of QBs

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Dan Parr
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Posted July 02, 2011 @ 10:59 a.m. ET
By Dan Parr

Tony Gonzalez did not participate in the Falcons' player-organized workouts this offseason — he has been at home in California working on growing the sports nutrition company, All-Pro Science, he co-founded in 2009 — but he has been in touch with Matt Ryan, Gonzalez told PFW this past week.

The Falcons are going to be considered contenders in the NFC again whenever next season begins, and Gonzalez said there's no doubt in his mind that Ryan is capable of leading Atlanta to a title this time.

"He's ready," Gonzalez said. "He's at that point in his career where, like most players, you really don't come into your own as a football player in the NFL until right around Year Three, Four, Five. Usually quarterbacks, through history, they usually take three, four years to really hit that peak. Matt, he's at Year Four, and he's just going to keep getting better. I think the Falcons, (GM) Thomas (Dimitroff), has surrounded him with some really good players."

Ryan was named to his first Pro Bowl last season and helped guide the Falcons to a 13-3 record and the No. 1 seed in the NFC, but Atlanta was blown out by the Packers at the Georgia Dome in the divisional round and Ryan's playoff record fell to 0-2.

Ryan did show great improvement in the regular season, however, and Gonzalez expects the QB will make another significant leap, perhaps as early as this year.

"He already is a really good player," Gonzalez said. "He went to the Pro Bowl last year, but I'm talking like a Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers — he's going to be up there with those guys if things go the way I think they can."

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