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How Much Does Los Angeles Chargers TE Antonio Gates Have Left?

SAN DIEGO - OCTOBER 03: Tight end Antonio Gates #85 of the San Diego Chargers carries the ball against safety Adrian Wilson #24 of the Arizona Cardinals at Qualcomm Stadium on October 3, 2010 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO - OCTOBER 03: Tight end Antonio Gates #85 of the San Diego Chargers carries the ball against safety Adrian Wilson #24 of the Arizona Cardinals at Qualcomm Stadium on October 3, 2010 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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How much does Los Angeles Chargers TE Antonio Gates have left in the tank? How much will he be able to contribute this season.

There are people that are questioning what Antonio Gates has left in the tank. I don’t remember the last time that he had zero targets in a game though and that definitely will leave people questioning.

First off, Antonio wasn’t brought back to be the starting tight end on this roster. This team was going to move forward with him and having Hunter Henry and Virgil Green as the starters. They didn’t want to bring back Gates with those two players in front of him on the depth chart.

With Hunter going down, Gates is back, but he is mainly taking on the role as the backup to Virgil Green. Green has shown promise already as the starter and is a key contributor as a blocker in the running game. With Green being able to seal the edge and open up lanes for Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler, he needs to get the playing time in early downs.

Gates has never been applauded for his blocking skills, so his main contribution will be as a receiver in the passing game. Has he lost a step? Is he too slow? I feel like people have been saying that for the last 4 or 5 years. He isn’t the Pro Bowl player that he used to be, but in key situations, I think he still can move the sticks and contribute in the red zone.

Against the Rams this weekend, this would have been a game that Antonio would have dominated in the past. A team with a weak linebacker unit but would be quick to get to the quarterback. That is prime for young Gates. I still think he will put up a decent stat line in the game, but right now his role is to be the decoy on the field. He still gets the attention from defenses and that opens it up for everyone else. There are bigger threats on the Chargers offense and having Gates as a 5th option on the field is still a very good option.

Gates has lost a step. He is slower. He might be bigger. He still will find ways to contribute and I am happy to make a run through the playoffs with him on the field.

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