Chase Coffman’s offseason work draws praise from Mike Smith

Getty Images

The Falcons got a reprieve from pondering life without Tony Gonzalez when the future Hall of Fame tight end put off retirement in March.

Nevertheless, the Falcons eventually will have to replace Gonzalez, who is signed for two more seasons but indicated to PFT in April that 2013 is his swan song.

Atlanta somewhat addressed its tight end depth in the offseason, drafting Stanford tight end Levine Toilolo in the fourth round. Still, capably backing up Gonzalez — let alone having to one day step into his shoes — is not a one-person job. Even if Toilolo can contribute in two-TE sets in Year One, the Falcons could use another tight end to emerge.

Chase Coffman, who finished 2012 on Atlanta’s roster and had an impressive sideline catch in the Falcons’ divisional-round win vs. Seattle, is among those competing for a spot at tight end. With Gonzalez excused from offseason work, Coffman has received more practice snaps, and he has played well, head coach Mike Smith said Thursday.

“Chase has had a really good offseason,” Smith said Thursday at the club’s minicamp, according to “He’s had a lot of opportunities to get some snaps in. He’s made the most of it. He made a couple of really great catches today. We were specifically working on the red-zone area and as you know our tight end is highly involved in the red zone.”

A third-round pick of the Bengals in 2009, the 26-year-old Coffman caught just three passes in three seasons with Cincinnati. Coffman first signed with the Falcons last August but was waived after two weeks. However, the Falcons re-signed him in November after tight end Tommy Gallarda was placed on injured reserve.

The Bengals have moved on from Coffman at tight end, but there is an opportunity in Atlanta for Coffman to contribute if he’s capable enough — and any public praise from the coach, even in June, has to be considered a positive.