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NFL notebook: Falcons' TE Gonzalez puts finishing touches on career

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Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez (right) is tackled by 49ers inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman on Monday, Dec. 23, 2013, in San Francisco.
By The Associated Press
Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013, 8:38 p.m.

Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez stayed with his normal routine Friday, his last day of practice after 17 seasons in the NFL.

Now, all that is left is the final game, when the Falcons (4-11) face the Carolina Panthers (11-4) at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

“It's time for me to go,” Gonzalez said. “It's time to go back to my family. Go back to California, where I'm from, and explore that next chapter in my life.” He has 40 family and friends set to attend his final NFL game. His high school football and basketball coaches are scheduled to be there.

“I'm looking forward to it,” Gonzalez said. “I can't wait to go out there and play a game.” He was drafted 13th overall in the 1997 draft by the Kansas City Chiefs and was traded to the Falcons in 2009 for a second-round draft pick.

Along the way, he's captured most of the meaningful records for tight ends and appears bound for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

While the team's fortunes have sagged, Gonzalez leads the team in receiving with 79 catches and has helped mentor rookie tight end Levine Toilolo.

Around the league

The Bears signed fullback Tony Fiammetta to a two-year extension that will keep him with the team through the 2015 season. Fiammetta has appeared in each of the Bears' first 15 games in his first season in Chicago, helping running back Matt Forte total 1,229 yards rushing — nine short of Forte's career high set in 2008. ... Seahawks cornerback Walter Thurmond returns from a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, reportedly for marijuana. Coach Pete Carroll said Byron Maxwell would start Sunday against St. Louis in Thurmond's place. ... The Vikings have ruled out running back Adrian Peterson for their final game of the season. Peterson sprained his right foot Dec. 8 at Baltimore. ... Packers receiver Randall Cobb has been activated from injured reserve and has been listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Bears.

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