WR Gonzalez puts injuries in the past

WR Gonzalez puts injuries in the past
April 10, 2012, 4:46 pm
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FOXBORO -- Anthony Gonzalez believes he's landed where he was meant to.

"This is my first time as a free agent; I didn't know what was going to happen, or how it worked," the 27-year old receiver said Tuesday at Gillette Stadium. "I've got some good friends who are very talented football players who still haven't signed on with anybody.

"It was somewhat surprising, but it was the one I was hoping to get, to be honest. When I evaluated free agency and different teams and how I thought I would fit culturally as well as from an offensive standpoint, this is one I targeted. To have the interest be mutual -- that worked out well."

A former first-round pick out of Ohio State, Gonzalez is entering his sixth season in the league. But what should have been a promising career has been ravaged by injury: a dislocated thumb; bruised foot; shoulder, hamstring, hip, knee, back, groin and "leg" ailments; a high ankle sprain; concussions. Consequently, Gonzalez has 99 catches for 1,307 yards and seven touchdowns in 40 games. He had zero receptions last season for the 2-14 Colts.

"Those seasons weren't how I would have hoped for them to go," he admitted. "I've learned a lot of things and going forward, that' s kind of in my past. It's a basic rule: I look forward as opposed to back. And that's the focus I'm putting on it these days."

Further prodding about his health -- from various angles -- produced little else. Gonzalez said he's one to outline his personal goals, and it seemed on Tuesday he'd already made up his mind to not discuss injury issues.

There's enough in the future to concern himself with anyway.

"I'm kind of sneaking around trying to learn as much as I can; there's kind of some goofy rules right now in terms of what you can and can't do," he smiled. "But that's kind of my focus right now with Tom, or Brian Hoyer, or anybody, is just to learn this offesne as quickly as humanly possible. I know just from watching that it's a pretty complex, pretty involved offense. The one in Indy was too so that part of it doesn't worry me.

"I want to make sure when it's time to go out on the field and do things there's no hesitancy mentally because I know if I don't know exactly what I'm doing, there's going to be problems for me. It's a lot harder to play when you don't know what you're doing."

Chad Ochocinco illustrated last season how unpreparedness plays out in New England: Badly. And what did the receiver say again and again, in the few times he talked? Patriots expectations are astronomical -- uniquely so -- and in the locker room it starts with quarterback Tom Brady.

The attitude of excellence is one Gonzalez had to have experienced playing with Peyton Manning in Indianapolis.

"I was joking with my friends I have a very strict "Hall of Famer only" policy and I have to stay within that group," Gonzalez laughed. "It's wonderful obviously. Quarterbacks make receivers look very good and hopefully I can get some opportunities with him."

It helps he knows Brady back-up Brian Hoyer very, very well; the pair played football together at Cleveland's St. Ignatius high school.

Though Gonzalez said it's "odd" to be reuinted with his high school quarterback, he's appreciates having a familiar face around Gillette. He described himself as a quiet guy who has appreciated getting to know his new teammates in the small waves currently are rolling into the facility.

And it's just the beginning, Gonzalez hopes.

"From my perspective, I have an opportunity with the best football program in the National Football League," he said. "I can't ask for anything more than that."