FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. - Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez put off retirement for one more year with a single goal in mind: win his first Super Bowl.
But the Falcons have lost three in a row entering Sunday's game against the Bucs and have been ravaged by injuries. So it seems likely Gonzalez's farewell season won't end with a ring. Just don't go telling him that.
"As far as I'm concerned," Gonzalez said Thursday, "we're still in it."
Gonzalez, 37, whose 1,275 catches trail only Jerry Rice, insists he has no regrets and denied any interest in being traded to a contender. That includes the Chiefs, for whom he started his career.
"This is the team I came back for. These are the guys I came back to play with," Gonzalez said. "I'm enjoying myself win, lose or draw. Obviously, I would rather win. It makes it a lot more fun. But there's no way I would even think about jumping ship because I love playing for this team and I love playing for this city."
Four Falcons starters are out with season-ending injuries, including star receiver Julio Jones. Other key players have missed extensive time, including linebacker Sean Weatherspoon and running back Steven Jackson. Still more are slowed by nagging ailments, most notably star receiver Roddy White.
But Gonzalez refuses to believe all hope is lost.
"I'm not there yet," he said. "Not even close."
Last season had been set to be Gonzalez's last. During it, he finally got his first playoff win and nearly made it to the Super Bowl, the Falcons coming up 10 yards short of beating San Francisco in the NFC title game. The thrilling ride prompted a change on heart, luring him back for a 17th season.
In 2013, Gonzalez ranks second on the Falcons and fourth among all tight ends with 33 receptions, accounting for 339 yards and three touchdowns. At this pace, Gonzalez would end the season with a career-best 106 receptions.
"I know there's trade rumors out there," he said. "I would never go and ask them for a trade. If that's something they want to do to help their franchise, that's up to them. But it wouldn't be coming from me. I came back to play with these guys. I have a great relationship with these guys and the coaches, too. These are guys I will call friends for the rest of my life, so I'm not going to jump ship."
Those teammates are aware of why Gonzalez came back for one more season. They still hope to send him out in style.
"Everybody is trying their hardest to make sure we get that done," rookie tight end Levine Toilolo said. "We still have a lot of football left to play."
Ponder doesn't know what future holds
MINNEAPOLIS - Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder said he is considering his options after being passed over to start Monday against the Giants.
The 12th overall pick out of Florida State in 2011 sat out against the Steelers on Sept. 29 with a bruised rib. Healthy after a bye, he remained the No. 2 behind Matt Cassel for Sunday's loss to the Panthers. Wednesday, the Vikings said Josh Freeman will start against the Giants with Ponder the No. 2.
"I have to figure out what's best for me and everything and for this team," Ponder said. "I don't know if that's staying here or going somewhere else."
Coach Leslie Frazier said he did not "see any scenario where (Ponder) would not be on our roster" for the rest of the season.
More Vikings: Starting safety Harrison Smith was ruled out for Monday because of turf toe on his left foot.
Texans change QBs: Case Keenum will start at quarterback for the Texans on Sunday. Coach Gary Kubiak said Matt Schaub, who hurt his right ankle and foot last week against the Rams, won't be available, leaving T.J. Yates as the No. 2. Keenum threw for 19,217 yards, a Division I-A record, during his career at the University of Houston. He went undrafted and spent last season on the Texans' practice squad.
Browns: Running back Willis McGahee did not practice because of an undisclosed injury. He only rode a stationary bike and worked with a trainer.
Colts: Starting linebacker Jerrell Freeman returned to practice after sustaining a concussion Monday against the Chargers. He still must be cleared to play Sunday.
Cowboys: Linebacker Cameron Lawrence was fined $21,000 for Sunday's blindside block on Redskins corner David Amerson during a punt return that resulted in a concussion.
Eagles: Quarterback Michael Vick said his hamstring injury will keep him out Sunday, leaving Nick Foles to start his second straight game.
Giants: Running back Andre Brown practiced for the first time since breaking his leg in the final preseason game. He cannot come off injured reserve until Nov. 10.
Jaguars: Leading receiver Cecil Shorts, who sprained the joint connecting the breastbone and collarbone Sunday, returned to practice on a limited basis and will be a game-time decision.
Patriots: Corner Aqib Talib, who sustained a hip flexor Sunday, is unlikely to play this week, profootballtalk.com reported.
Seahawks: Former Florida receiver Percy Harvin, out all season due to hip surgery, hopes to return to practice next week, the NFL Network reported.
Steelers: A day after saying starting linebacker Jarvis Jones missed practice with a "head injury," the team disclosed he had a concussion Sunday. His status for hasn't been determined.
Titans: Quarterback Jake Locker, who sprained his right knee and right hip Sept. 29 against the Jets, practiced for the second straight day and said he wants to play Sunday. The team didn't say if he or Ryan Fitzpatrick will start.