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Gates looks sharp, gets a full workout early

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Aug 16, 2009.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006

    By Tod Leonard
    Union-Tribune Staff Writer
    12:06 a.m. August 16, 2009

    In their preseason a year ago, the Chargers essentially packed Antonio Gates, who was coming off toe surgery, in bubble wrap and never let him step into harm's way. In last night's 20-14 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the preseason opener, Gates got an occasional game's worth of passes directed at him in a matter of minutes.
    On San Diego's second possession, quarterback Philip Rivers threw six passes to Gates in a 10-play span. He caught three for 17 total yards, including one that went for a first down.
    Gates, who was Rivers' favorite target last year with a team-leading 60 catches, looked as sharp as ever on his first reception. A rushed Rivers threw behind him as he streaked across the middle, and Gates reached back and snatched the ball out of the air with only his left hand.
    Gates went out when Rivers did, after the second series.

    Bennett makes case

    The Chargers would be happy to see running back Michael Bennett have a strong preseason so they could keep him, just in case LaDainian Tomlinson or Darren Sproles get hurt.
    Bennett didn't hurt his chances against Seattle, running for 21 yards on six carries for a team-best 3.5-yard average. He also scored the Chargers' first touchdown on a strong burst from the 2-yard line in the second quarter.
    A former No. 1 draft pick of Minnesota, Bennett was claimed off waivers last November by the Chargers and averaged 6 yards on four carries in the two postseason games.
    If Bennett keeps performing, the team could go with just one fullback, Jacob Hester , and that would put Mike Tolbert's job in jeopardy.

    Catching on

    Among the highlights from the Chargers' receiving corps:
    •Wide receiver Malcom Floyd had a bad drop on a third-down pass early in the game, but he redeemed himself with a great catch of a 37-yard Billy Volek pass late in the second quarter. Floyd had to adjust to the ball flight and rose high up in front of the defender to make the catch.
    Floyd led the Chargers with 12 catches for 137 yards last preseason and went on to have career highs in the regular season with 27 catches for 465 yards.
    •Third-year receiver Buster Davis , who has been plagued by injuries in his Chargers career, gave the team reason to hope he will emerge by making three catches for 64 yards.
    •Charly Martin , the rookie free-agent receiver who is a likely candidate for the practice squad, was the team's sparkplug late in the second half when he made a team-high five catches for 67 yards.
    •Kris Wilson , who is third on the tight end depth chart, caught three passes for 49 yards, including a 32-yard reception down the sideline that set up the Chargers' first touchdown.

    Davis does returning

    With Sproles not doing any kickoff or punt returns for the game, those duties went to Davis in the first half, and he did well. Davis returned two kickoffs for a 24-yard average, which was Sproles' 2008 season average. Davis had three punt returns for a 6.3 average. Sproles averaged 6.0 in '08.

    Nuts 'n' Bolts

    •The Chargers who did not suit up were: cornerback Cletis Gordon , linebackers Larry English, Stephen Cooper and Darry Beckwith , guards Louis Vasquez and Brandyn Dombrowski , and defensive ends Jacques Cesaire and Ryon Bingham .
    •Linebacker Kevin Burnett , the Chargers' only significant free-agent acquisition in the offseason, led the team with six combined tackles.

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