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Trusty eyes Gates opening

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Sep 9, 2005.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a href="http://www.boston.com/sports/football/patriots/articles/2005/09/09/dwight_has_caught_on_fast/" target="_blank">OC Register</a>

    SAN DIEGO – Landon Trusty is a near-perfect finance student who knows how to analyze a calculated risk.

    For instance, he could go back to Central Arkansas and finish the two courses he needs to graduate.

    Or he could try to play tight end for the Chargers, who just gave their tight end a contract that could be worth $4million a year for six years.

    That's a lot more calculation than risk.

    "I don't know how long I'll be doing this," Trusty said Wednesday. "And I don't know what I'll do with my degree. But this way at least I can make as many contacts as I can."

    Whether Trusty makes contact Sunday, against Dallas, hasn't been determined. Trusty had a solid exhibition season as Antonio Gates, the Pro Bowl tight end, was vacationing from training camp.

    General Manager A.J. Smith, whom military people would admiringly call an "ironbutt," put Gates on the Roster Exempt list, which basically suspended Gates for two exhibition games and the Dallas game. Gates then signed the Chargers' offer of $360,000 for one year, which was swallowed up in the 6-year deal that is guaranteed for '05 and '06 and, if all goes well, could pay Gates $24million.

    Gates can earn between $10million-$11million in that frame, which is the least the Bolts could do for a guy who snagged 81 balls for 13 touchdowns in '04.

    Gates is 6-foot-4 and 260 and found it much easier to catch footballs against small guys than rebound basketballs against big guys, which is what he did at Kent State.

    Trusty is 6-foot-7 and 260. He was the MVP of the Arkansas state high school basketball playoffs, in which he led his Hot Springs team to the championship, and he also played quarterback, but switched to tight end at Central Arkansas.

    "The tight ends got hurt," Trusty said, logically. "The quarterbacks were coming back."

    Trusty caught 20 touchdown passes for Central Arkansas, best known as Scottie Pippen's alma mater, and played basketball there his freshman year. But soon the word emerged that Trusty did not always keep his mind on his business. Heard of the guy whose motor is always running? Trusty sometimes left his in the shop.

    "Aw, the coach got on me just one time my sophomore year," Trusty said, laughing. "The football field there was between a couple of school buildings, and I was watching the students get out. I did tend to daydream sometimes. The coach got me pretty good. But it's not like it always happened."

    Anyway, Trusty was not drafted, and the Cowboys did not get around to signing him as a free agent until June of last year. He was up and down through the fall, on Bill Parcells' practice squad.

    Provisionally, Trusty has made the Chargers. But he won't know whether he'll be developmental, or whether he'll be active for Sunday. "I doubt if I'll be doing much either way," he said. "But you never know."

    On Wednesday he got a hint. He was wearing a Dallas jersey to simulate the coming enemy. Guys who play a lot wear the Chargers jersey. Trusty might have been excited about returning to the famous star. Except it also occurred to him that he didn't wear it much in Dallas, since he was practice fodder.

    Marty Schottenheimer's tight end of choice Sunday will be Justin Peelle, who has started 15 games in three years. He was Joey Harrington's tight end for Oregon's Fiesta Bowl team.

    "Usually when Antonio's in there and I'm in there, I run a lot of H-back," Peelle said. "I don't think this (the suspension) will affect me much on Sunday. To be honest I didn't spend a minute thinking about Antonio's contract situation. I was too busy getting myself ready."

    And Trusty?

    "He's a real big boy," Peelle said. "I know if I was that big, I couldn't run like that."

    Regardless, the defending AFC West champs need to consolidate all their brazen August talk with a victory over Dallas. Repeating is a proposition that is endangered by a preposition - "at." Outside the division, the Chargers are at Philadelphia, at New England, at the Jets and at Indianapolis. Which means that if they lose any home games, their season is at risk.

    "We thought we were going to win last year," Peelle said. "Nobody else thought so. Now we've worked even harder, probably because we realize the bull's-eye is on our backs."

    The first shot comes Sunday, with Trusty and without the trusty Gates. Someone asked Schottenheimer how it felt to have an "$8million player on the developmental squad." Schottenheimer said it was a first for him.

    "But I can't bring myself to say he's developmental," the coach said. "I think we can say he's pretty well-established."

    Like Trusty, Gates was not drafted. Like Trusty, Gates was just a name on Smith's greaseboard until he actually got a chance. The corollary is that there aren't many players in the league like Gates, from a height/speed/jump/instinct standpoint.

    There are always a few campers like Trusty who intrigue coaches and general managers. This could work out. If it doesn't, he'll have options - stockbroker, financial planner, FEMA director.

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