The Chargers might have waited a little too long to re-sign Antonio Gates. The talented tight end may not be ready to go Week 1 against the Chiefs.
Most Chargers fans are pretty happy with the team’s decision to bring back Antonio Gates. Unfortunately, they may not have made the move in enough time to get him on the field against the Chiefs this weekend.
It’s possible Gates could get the go ahead to play in the Chargers’ opener, but Anthony Lynn wants to see how he looks in practice on Wednesday first. Understandably, the coaching staff wants to avoid putting the veteran out there too soon. Specifically, Lynn doesn’t want to play him too early only to see him suffer an injury that would set them back “four or five weeks.”
Sitting Gates for the Chiefs game would hurt the Chargers’ chances of starting out 1-0, but the organization is wise to look at the long view here. The first week isn’t going to make or break their season. Instead, they need Gates to be a key safety valve for Philip Rivers down the stretch. That may require giving him more time to prepare and rest than the Chargers have in previous seasons.
Look for Virgil Green to get the majority of the snaps at tight end if Gates can’t go. He’s nowhere near the receiver that the former Kent State basketball star is. With Green in the lineup, look for the Chargers to try to slow down the Chiefs offense by keeping the football away from them. That means Melvin Gordon should get a ton of opportunities to bludgeon the Kansas City defense on the ground.
Ultimately, whether or not Gates plays shouldn’t have too large of an impact on this game. Even when he’s on the field, he’s no better than Rivers’ fourth option at this stage of his career. He provides the offense with a quality safety outlet against pressure, but he’s not a deep threat down the middle any longer. Whether or not he’s on the field Week 1 won’t change much of the Chargers’ playbook or the Chiefs defensive game plan.