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Gates back to old self

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, Nov 7, 2008.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

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    Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez and his Chargers counterpart Antonio Gates have always had a huge mutual respect for one another. After what the Bolts’ perennial Pro Bowler has been through this season, Gonzalez’s thoughts of Gates have been raised even a bit more.

    “Just as a person, I really like Gates because he’s tough,” Gonzalez said. “He plays hurt. He works hard. I have unbelievable respect for him.”

    Gates’ long journey back from major toe surgery this offseason has been well documented. He underwent an operation in late February, missed the entire offseason and began practicing late in training camp to get back on the field for the regular season opener.

    The numbers suggest that Gates has felt like himself all season. He’s tied with Vincent Jackson for the team led in catches with 30 and has 403 receiving yards. He also has five touchdown catches, the most among all NFL tight ends. While he’s been a good actor, Gates was able to grin and bear the pain through the first half of the season.

    “It’s been tough at times, but as a competitor you fight through it,” Gates said. “I’d never been through a major injury before. It’s not easy. There have been times in the first half of the season where I just haven’t felt like myself.”

    Ten weeks into the season, Gates believes he’s getting much closer to being his old self. Two weeks ago against New Orleans, he had his best game of the season, hauling in six passes for 96 yards and a touchdown.

    “I thought he’s progressed every week,” Head Coach Norv Turner said. “He was outstanding in the game (against New Orleans). He moved the best he’s moved and he changed direction the best he’s done that.”

    Gates felt encouraged by his play in London and hopes it’s something he can build on as the second half of the season begins Sunday.

    “There are glimpses of it,” Gates said. “I'm able to make plays that I wasn't able to make early in the year due to the injury and due to the surgery. I just feel the comfort level is coming back, physically and mentally. For most people who don't know, the mental part of it is just as important as the physical part of it, just knowing and feeling comfortable that you can do it.”

    As always, Gates is excited to see his old friend Gonzalez this weekend. No tight end in NFL history has caught more passes than Gonzalez, and having the nine-time Pro Bowler watching from the opposite sideline always seems to bring out the best in Gates.

    While he’s played in three more games against both Denver and Oakland, Gates has caught more touchdown passes (8) against the Chiefs than he has against any other opponent.

    “We compete, but it’s not like I have to (defend) him and he has to (defend) me,” Gates said. “That’s what makes it cool about football. You see a guy who plays your position and you can kind of pull for him. You still want your team to win, but it’s not a one-on-one battle and that’s unique.”

    Gates and Gonzalez speak regularly during the offseason and often share tips with each other, tidbits that both players have found very helpful.

    “We see the same game plans,” Gates said. “Teams play us the same way a lot so I can watch Chiefs film and see what they did to him and use that. Tony can do the same thing by watching us. He the only person in the league I can do that with.”

    Although Gonzalez has been in the league six more years than Gates, he says there are things he can pick up from his younger counterpart.

    “I just watch him grow as a player and seeing the things that he does, trying to copy them, trying to see if I can put that in my game,” Gonzalez said. “I feel very fortunate to play at the same time he has and watch him play.”

    From a pure statistical standpoint, Gates is behind where he was at the midway point a year ago. Through eight games in 2007, he had 46 receptions for 639 yards. With his toe continuing to feel better, he hopes for a big second half.

    “I missed a lot of football this summer and through camp,” Gates said. “Being able to practice a full week the last couple months is huge. I’m still breaking up some of the scar tissue and fighting through, but I’m feeling better. Hopefully this is a good November and December for me but more importantly for the San Diego Chargers.”

    Cromartie, Chambers return

    Both wide receiver Chris Chambers (ankle) and cornerback Antonio Cromartie (hip) were back on the field Thursday after missing Wednesday’s practice. Both players were limited in what they were able to do, but Turner was encouraged by what he saw from them.

    “I feel better,” Turner said. “They were limited but they were able to go through a good part of what we did. As long as there’s not a setback tomorrow from what they did, they should be alright.”

    Although Cromartie hasn’t missed any game time, his hip has bothered him throughout the season. Chambers missed two games with his ankle but played in London. He thinks the bye week help him.

    “I was able to come back here and have a week of practice, more than I’ve done in a long time,” Chambers said. “Hopefully I can get out on the field and make some plays. This injury is going to nag for a while. I just have to remain tough and fight through.”

    Chargers.com
     
  2. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

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    CHARGERS: Best in the biz: Enjoy possibly the last meeting between Gates and Gonzalez, two of the premier tight ends in NFL history


    SAN DIEGO ---- Two of the NFL's top tight ends will once again share the same football field on Sunday, and it could mark the last time that Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates compete against each other at Qualcomm Stadium.

    With the Kansas City Chiefs wallowing through the early stages of a major rebuilding plan, there's no guarantee that Gonzalez will be with the team next season. The most productive tight end in NFL history was nearly traded to Green Bay last month and reiterated Wednesday that he intends to retire after the 2009 season.

    The thought of the 32-year-old Gonzalez wearing another team's uniform seems odd to Gates, the Chargers' star who has joined Gonzalez as a perennial AFC Pro Bowl selection.

    "Any time you have a guy that has played his whole career in a city, and he has tremendous respect in that town, and that town loves Tony, to be putting him on the trade block, it has to be some type of business decision," Gates said. "I can't imagine it being personal. I had to really think it was about that football team, about that football team winning football games, and that's why the discussions came up at that point."

    Gonzalez thought he was a goner 15 minutes before the trading deadline, and he was initially devastated that a deal fell through.

    He then held a clubhouse meeting with himself, attempting to find the right mind-set to go about completing his 12th season with the Chiefs. He later assured his teammates in a players-only meeting that he was at peace with what happened.

    "I said to myself I can either be pissed off about it ---- and I was that night ---- but by the next morning I was rejuvenated," Gonzalez said.

    Gonzalez, a nine-time Pro Bowl selection, holds NFL records for receptions (860), receiving yardage (10,313) and touchdowns (69) by a tight end and hardly appears to be slowing down. He caught 99 passes just last season and has 40 catches at the midway point of the season.

    Gates could eventually surpass Gonzalez's touchdown record. He enters Sunday's game with 48 career touchdown receptions ---- he broke the Chargers' record for touchdowns by a tight end (45 by Kellen Winslow) just last month ---- and is just four scores away from tying Dave Casper for fifth place in NFL history.

    Despite being hindered by foot and hip injuries during the first half of this season, Gates is tied for the team lead in both receptions (30) and touchdowns (five).

    And the four-time Pro Bowl pick thinks he's just now hitting his stride.

    "Now I can practice a full week, and practice is significant to how you play," Gates said. "There's no magic to how you play, there's no magic to having longevity and playing at a high level; you have to be able to practice."

    A strong work ethic is certainly something that Gonzalez and Gates have in common. Chargers backup tight end Kris Wilson spent the last four seasons with the Chiefs and was impressed by Gonzalez's tireless efforts to fine-tune his craft. He has seen the same thing with Gates.

    "They're both professionals and they both take the game very seriously," Wilson said. "I think what people don't realize is the amount of work both guys put in.

    "Obviously, there's a different playing style between the two, but they're both out there behind the scenes before and after practice, when nobody is out there, working on their crafts.

    "They are the two best tight ends in the game ---- great work ethic and great natural ability. Obviously, Antonio is a little younger, but both of them are respected for playing the position at its highest level."

    Wilson said he always figured Gonzalez would "retire as a Chief." Even Kansas City coach Herman Edwards sounds relieved that the October proposal fell through.

    "He's been a staple here for all these years and a Hall of Fame tight end," Edwards said. "I'm glad that it didn't really transpire. It didn't work out, and that's good for us and for him, too, because he gets to end his career here, hopefully."

    Once Gonzalez leaves the game, Gates will likely be viewed as the NFL's top tight end ---- Dallas' Jason Witten, a four-time NFC Pro Bowler, certainly deserves mention ---- and Gonzalez will enjoy watching the latter stages of Gates' career.

    "I have unbelievable respect for him," Gonzalez said. "Just watching him grow as a player and seeing the things that he's done and trying to copy him. As a person, I really like Gates because he's tough. He plays hurt and he works hard. Seeing his demeanor at the Pro Bowl, he's not one of those 'I, my, me' guys. But obviously, he wants the ball in certain situations because he's a great player."

    Chargers notes

    WR Chris Chambers (ankle) and CB Antonio Cromartie (hip) were limited practice participants and appear to be in line to start. Chambers said he doesn't foresee being completely healthy for another 3-to-4 weeks. ... Backup C Jeremy Newberry (illness) missed practice. ... The local television blackout for Sunday's game was lifted on Thursday. The game will be televised by Channel 8.

    By MIKE SULLIVAN
     
  3. BFISA

    BFISA Well-Known Member

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    Along with LT coming out of his funk and Chambers returning, this is the best possible news!! :yes: :tup:
     
  4. BFISA

    BFISA Well-Known Member

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    Two of the greatest that ever played the position; should once again be a great show!! :tup:
     
  5. montanabolthead

    montanabolthead BoltTalker

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    'bout time! Gates and LT are the game changers we've missed. Now if our "D" is allowed to play, we may be able to kick/claw our way into the playoffs.
     
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  6. HEXEDBOLT

    HEXEDBOLT Don't like it, lump it!!!

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    Just think, our offense worked very well in the first half of this season with a dinged LT and Gates.

    Do NFL score boards go past 100? :icon_shrug::icon_huh::icon_rofl:
     
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  7. VikingBolt

    VikingBolt BoltTalker

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    word
     
  8. ElectrifiedTroy

    ElectrifiedTroy Well-Known Member

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    I agree Gates and Gonzalez are two of the best ever!
     
  9. HEXEDBOLT

    HEXEDBOLT Don't like it, lump it!!!

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    Gonzo is fun to watch as long as it's not the Bolt's he's whoopin up on.
     

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