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Antonio Gates’ Foot Likely to Bother Him for Season, Career

After catching eight passes for 74 yards in the Chargers’ season-opening win against the Vikings, it appeared as if Antonio Gates was back. Two weeks later, it appears as if being “back” has a whole new meaning.

Gates was shutout week two against the Patriots, prompting concern that he had re-aggravated his foot injury. Gates, who didn’t miss a game from 2006-2009, missed the last six games of the season last year with a torn plascia. Although listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Chiefs, Gates was inactive and it’s been reported that his plascia is torn again.

If you’re unsure what that means, read this excerpt from ESPN’s Stephania Bell, written about Gates before the season began:

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Antonio Gates Out for Texans Game

It looks like Norv Turner isn’t as bad of an injury report manipulator as we suspected. No Chargers player listed as doubtful heading into a game has played for San Diego this year and that truth continues.

Tight end Antonio Gates has been declared inactive for their game with the Houston Texans. Gates apparently tried to play but decided before the game he wasn’t feeling well enough to get out there. Gates has foot, ankle, and toe injuries, and just added a plantar fascia injury to his list of growing ailments.

San Diego has a bye week coming up so the good news is Antonio will have two weeks to try and get better for the rest of the season. Nobody can doubt the man’s toughness given that he’s played through injuries the past two weeks, but if just yesterday we thought Antonio would play this weekend, what happened?

If you remember back during the week, Gates was talking like he was hurt so badly he wasn’t going to play. Coach Norv Turner probably wanted to make things more difficult for Houston by letting them think Gates would play, so he probably told Gates to start acting like he was going to play. Or maybe they planned to have Gates try and play on game day but he was unfortunately unable to. All I know is that the Chargers will be in a tough spot without their star tight end in Houston.

Antonio Gates Doubtful but Still Likely to Play Against Texans

Chargers tight end Antonio Gates has been having a special season for San Diego. Despite getting hurt against the Rams and having just two catches, he managed to play against the Patriots the following week and posted 50 yards plus a touchdown. Last weekend, despite being extremely questionable, he caught five passes for 128 yards and a touchdown in a win over the Titans. In addition to all the problems on his left foot, Gates also tore the plantar fascia in his right foot making him “doubtful” for Sunday’s game in Houston.

No Chargers player listed as doubtful has played a game this season for obvious reasons; being doubtful means you only have a 25% chance of playing. If you go back to the playoffs in 2008, Antonio Gates was listed as doubtful twice and still played despite a toe injury. Between Norv Turner’s manipulation of the injury report and Gates’ resilience, I fully expect the All-Pro tight end to play against the Texans.

Gates made the trip with the team to Houston and reportedly looked pretty good walking on his way to the team’s walk-through practice. With his history of fighting through ailments, it’s a darn good bet that Antonio Gates will play in the game. You know what? The man is leading the NFL with nine touchdown catches on the season. It’s probably a good bet he’ll get a score in the game as well.

Photo Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Chargers Desperately Need Antonio Gates to Play Against New England

What a strange start to the 2010 NFL season it has been.  Who would have thought that week six would feature a match-up between the 1-3 Dallas Cowboys and 1-3 Minnesota Vikings?  No one could have predicted Tony Romo may have thrown the Cowboys season away after a mere five games.  And how about the Chargers?  If someone told you before the season that the Chiefs and Raiders would be ahead of San Diego in the AFC West with less than two-thirds of the season remaining, you’d probably have laughed in their face.

Such is the nature of the National Football League, and the Chargers now must face the reality of a must-win game against one of the better teams in the AFC.  The AFC West isn’t the strongest division so losing this weekend wouldn’t kill San Diego’s chances, but they certainly don’t want to start the season 2-5.  If they’re missing Antonio Gates, they may not have a choice.

One player normally won’t make or break a team’s chances, but Gates is about as close as it gets on that front.  The Chargers have already been without their top wide receiver in Vincent Jackson, who remains a holdout.  Malcom Floyd has filled in admirably in Jackson’s absence, but he suffered a hamstring injury against the Rams on Sunday and isn’t expected to play this weekend.  Legedu Naanee is battling a hamstring injury of his own and was unable to go on against St. Louis.  The Chargers are “hopeful” Gates can suit up against New England with a toe injury, but if he can’t it could be a long day for San Diego.

It’s no secret that the Patriots’ weakest component is their pass defense.  Without Gates, Floyd, and Naanee, it’s tough to imagine a Philip Rivers and the Chargers would be able to exploit that weakness.  If San Diego’s slow start persists and the injury bug starts getting a hold of them, Chargers fans may be headed for the ledge.

Philip Rivers to Antonio Gates May be Best Aerial Combination in Football

When Vincent Jackson decided to hold out from the Chargers, most people figured quarterback Philip Rivers would rely more heavily on tight end Antonio Gates during the season. Even with that knowledge, I don’t think anyone could have predicted the duo would get off to such an incredible start.

Through four games, Philip Rivers is third in the NFL with 1,328 passing yards and second with nine touchdown passes. Tight end Antonio Gates has caught six of the nine touchdowns and leads all receivers and running backs in touchdowns scored. Gates is second amongst tight ends with 24 catches and first by far with 386 yards. He’s averaging nearly 100 yards receiving per game and 21 of his 24 catches have gone for first downs. Only one other player (Brandon Lloyd for Denver) has as many catches of 20 or more yards this year (they both have eight). Gates is dominating like few other tight ends have and is on pace for the best offensive season a tight end has ever had.

TOP QUARTERBACK-RECEIVER TANDEMS IN THE NFL

    > Philip Rivers to Antonio Gates: 24 rec, 386 yards, 6 TDs, 21 first downs
    > Peyton Manning to Reggie Wayne: 33 rec, 456 yards, 2 TDs, 25 first downs
    > Matt Ryan to Roddy White: 32 rec, 362 yards, 2 TDs, 18 first downs
    > Joe Flacco to Anquan Boldin: 27 rec, 355 yards, 3 TDs, 19 first downs

As much as A.J. Smith was ridiculed for being the “Lord of No Rings” after not signing Vincent Jackson, it sure looks like he knew what he was doing. Smith signed Gates to a six-year $39.8 million dollar contract in the off-season and Rivers to a seven-year $98.25 million extension last year. He’s not cheap, he just knows who his real MVPs are.