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The Los Angeles Chargers aren't ready to say farewell to Antonio Gates after all.
13-11-2018 08:04 AM
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The Los Angeles Chargers aren't ready to say farewell to Antonio Gates after all.


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Four months after the Chargers bade a public goodbye to the leading receiver in franchise history Los Angeles Chargers Hats , Gates returned to the team on Sunday, one week before the start of his 16th season. The 38-year-old franchise stalwart is getting a one-year deal and another shot at his first trip to a Super Bowl.The Chargers intended to part ways with Gates last spring after his role declined behind starting tight end Hunter Henry in 2017. Their plans changed when Henry tore a knee ligament during offseason workouts in May, likely sidelining him for the upcoming season.Although they've been discussing a reunion for many weeks, Gates and the Chargers waited until the day before the first week of game preparation for the regular season to formalize his return to his only NFL team. Gates' 114 career touchdown catches are sixth in NFL history and the most among active players."I'm grateful that he wants to come back and play with us," Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said. "But I'm also grateful he's coming back for all the right reasons. He's not coming back to put up more statistics. He's not coming back to prove anything to anybody, because he doesn't have to do that. He's coming back because he loves his teammates, and I think he sees something special in this football team that he wants to be a part of, and that's exciting."The Chargers are a popular pick to be a playoff contender after winning nine of their final 12 games last season. Gates and the Chargers have made the postseason just once since 2009.Telesco wouldn't say whether he expects Gates to play when the Chargers open the regular season at home against the Chiefs on Sept. 9."I guess we'll see," Telesco said. "I certainly wouldn't want to tell Kansas City."Once an undrafted free agent who played only basketball at Kent State, Gates is an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and the Chargers' career leader in receptions (927), yards receiving (11,508) and touchdown catches. He set the NFL record for touchdown receptions by a tight end last September, surpassing Tony Gonzalez with his 112th TD catch.But Gates' 30 receptions last season were his fewest since his rookie year in 2003, and his 316 yards receiving were a career low as Henry took the majority of the big snaps. Gates started only four games, but he stepped up capably into a larger role when Henry was out with a bruised kidney late last season.The Chargers spent the past four months with a clear need for a pass-catching tight end. Newcomer Virgil Green is a veteran blocking tight end with pass-catching ability, but the only other tight end on Los Angeles' 53-man roster Sunday was undrafted second-year pro Sean Culkin, who has never caught a pass in an NFL game."I guess we're very lucky to have a player like Hunter get hurt and have a player like Antonio available and willing Los Angeles Chargers Hoodie ," Telesco said. "He knows the offense. He knows the quarterback. He knows our head coach. He knows this organization very well, and he finished the year on a strong note last year."Gates has a profound connection with Philip Rivers, who joined the Chargers in 2004 and has been their starting quarterback in every game since 2006. Rivers has thrown 87 touchdown passes to Gates, and they trail only Indianapolis' Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison as the most prolific TD duo in NFL history.Rivers publicly advocated for Gates' return in recent months, and Gates will be another solid target in the Chargers' potent offense, which led the NFL with 276.9 yards passing per game last season. With Gates back in powder blue, Rivers' top eight receivers from last season are still with the Bolts.The Chargers made several additional moves Sunday, a day after setting their roster and choosing Caleb Sturgis as their new kicker.Los Angeles released linebacker Hayes Pullard, who played extensively last year, and quarterback Cardale Jones. Telesco said the Bolts hope to re-sign Jones to the practice squad as their third quarterback behind Rivers and Geno Smith.Los Angeles claimed linebacker Emmanuel Ellerbee off waivers from Atlanta and nose tackle T.Y. McGill off waivers from Kansas City. Telesco believes Ellerbee can fit in well with the Chargers after learning the Falcons' defense of coach Dan Quinn, whose scheme is derived from the system run by Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley when they both coached on Pete Carroll's staff in Seattle.Telesco also lamented the season-ending ankle injury of receiver Artavis Scott, who spent last season as a rookie on the Chargers' practice squad after winning a national title at Clemson alongside receiver Mike Williams, the Chargers' first-round pick last year."He had earned a spot on this team and had done a great job," Telesco said. "Last year at this time, we thought he could play, but this time, we know he can play."The Los Angeles Chargers will lose to the Kansas City Chiefs Later Youth Customized Los Angeles Chargers Jerseys , Jamie will give you three reasons the Los Angeles Chargers would win when they play host to the Kansas City Chiefs this weekend. For now, we will address three reasons the Chargers will instead lose their home opener.Kareem HuntLast year, Kareem Hunt rushed for 1,327 yards and 8 touchdowns. He rushed for 327 of those yards and 2 of those touchdowns in only two games against the Chargers. Hunt is one of the NFL’s premier talents at the running back position, and the Chargers defense (while strong overall) is porous against the run. They were one of the worst rushing defenses last year and they will be short on depth this weekend in part because Corey Liuget is starting the season off with a 4-game suspension. Overall, Hunt vs. Chargers run defense is just a really bad matchup for the home team.Joey BosaThe Chargers will be without their best player on Sunday because Bosa has been ruled out with a foot injury. The Chargers have a very talented defense, but a good chunk of that defense is young and another chunk of it is returning from injury after missing a good bit of the preseason. That is a unit that was really counting on its great pass rushing duo in Bosa and Melvin Ingram. Now, they will have to rely on Ingram and a rookie in Uchenna Nwosu to take pressure of a secondary that will be dealing with the likes of Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins.Travis KelceThe Chiefs tight end, nicknamed Zeus or Baby Gronk (which he hates) depending on who you’re talking to, is one of the elite tight ends in the NFL. The Chargers have a strong secondary, but most of that strength can be found on the boundaries at the cornerback position. Kelce will most likely draw Kyzir White or Derwin James in coverage. Both of those players are athletic, skilled, and have already shown great promise, but they are also rookies who will be playing in their first real NFL games. Covering Travis Kelce is a trial by fire that nobody would envy. It is hard to picture a version of this game where Kelce doesn’t make multiple big plays, and it will be a bit of an upset if he does not find the end zone.
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