TE Gallarda Stepping into Big Role on Sunday

TE Gallarda Stepping into Big Role on Sunday

Jay Adams

Published September 27, 2012 at 3:08 PM

The backup tight end position may seem trivial in the grand scheme of things, but when you take a deeper look, it can be as important as nearly any position on the field.

And when it comes to positions of importance, it’s probably helpful to know which players are filling those roles.

You say you don’t know who Tommy Gallarda is? Never heard of him? Well, now’s the time to get to know him, because he’ll be playing a big role in Sunday’s game against Carolina.

Tight end Michael Palmer is on the shelf, ruled out of Sunday’s game with a shoulder injury, and Gallarda — who is in his second year with the Falcons — is his backup on the 53-man roster. With Palmer out, Gallarda slides in to not only backup future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez, but also to fill in for Palmer, who has become a reliable blocker and option in the passing game in his three years with the Falcons.

So, just who is Tommy Gallarda and what can be bring to the table? Allow him to explain:

“I just want to be someone who can be relied on,” he said Thursday. “I like to be someone that can be able to make an impact in the run game, make an impact in the pass game and also on special teams. Really, I just want to be a balanced guy that they can rely on and trust in any situation and just be able to deliver when I’m called upon.”

Gallarda, who spent last season on the Falcons’ practice squad, is a Boise State product who started out as a wide receiver in high school before adding weight and making the transition to tight end in college. He spent much of his college time with Boise State learning the fine art of blocking.

Through the air with the Broncos, Gallarda caught 25 passes for 257 yards and nine touchdowns during his career — a red zone threat who could also make a lane for his running back if he needed to.

“I was able to learn a lot about blocking in college,” Gallarda said Thursday. “Here behind Tony, it’s more about receiving, so I’m really just trying to shape my whole game to make it more balanced.”

Flying completely under the radar since he’s been with the Falcons, Gallarda is eager to have a bigger role on Sunday. He has played on special teams units during the first three games, but now he’ll have a chance to show what he’s got at the tight end position against Carolina.

“It’s whatever (the team) needs,” Gallarda said. “These last few weeks, I’ve been doing a lot of special teams and I’ve been wanting to make an impact there. Mike (Palmer) is a great guy and with him going down right now, I want to be able to step in there. We’re all close. He’s helping me, teaching me all the tricks about how he plays his position, so it’s really a group effort from the whole tight end room. We’re all just trying to improve and get better together.”

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