Chargers

Antonio Gates, Ladarius Green have ‘tight’ relationship

SAN DIEGO – Coming into the 2014 season, the San Diego Chargers have a tight end combination that proved to be a difficult match-up for many defenders last year.

With Antonio Gates returning for his 13th season and Ladarius Green entering his third, the duo is expected to share the field again this year. 

For how many games and how many snaps, that’s the unknown. But the Chargers have a tight end package that works successfully in their offense and scheme. 

Last season Gates finished third among tight ends in targets and receiving yards, and fourth in catches. He caught 77 passes for 872 yards and four touchdowns. Gates’ style resembles his college basketball days of footwork and boxing out defenders. He has been Philip Rivers‘ most trusted go-to guy, especially on third downs.

On the other hand, Green had 17 receptions for 376 yards (an average of 22 yards per catch) and three touchdowns. He has the speed and explosiveness that gives him the ability to stretch down the field as a deep ball and vertical threat.

It’s no question the two compliment each other on the field. Off the field, they compliment about one another. 

“He’s growing at a rapid pace. He’s very talented and very humble. More so characteristic wise, he’s one of the better people you’re going to meet,” Gates expressed. “I try to lead by example and show him what it’s about being a NFL tight end.” 

The 24-year-old stated he feels fortunate having the opportunity to learn from the eight-time Pro Bowler. 

“That’s one of the best things that has happened to me coming into the league. Having a mentor like him, a person who’s going to be a Hall of Famer, and who knows the game very well. He’s willing to help me all the time, so it’s just a perfect situation for me right now,” Green asserted. 

A veteran helping a younger player isn’t always the case within the league, especially before the season. Sometimes the veterans don’t want to reveal too much in fear of losing their starting position or job. The NFL has grown more competitive over the recent years with players coming in at a higher level. To earn a spot on the 53-man roster, let alone as a starter, it’s every man for himself. 

But with Gates, he is so comfortable with his own skill set that he doesn’t mind sharing. He’s embraced the role as the teacher, a position many players may not step up to because they feel as though they are training their replacement. However, to become a teacher like Gates, means it will take an even superb player to get to his level. 

“We’re not on the same level right now,” stated Green. “But he always pulls me to the side and tells me what I could do better, and what he would’ve done in that situation.” 

And with every great teacher comes praise for their student. 

“One glaring thing about him is that he’s super talented,” Gates added. “He brings something different to the table than what I bring. What he’s able to do in the passing game, how he’s able to spread the field out and go down…it’s just something totally different than what I bring.” 

Photo by Mike Dyce, FanSided.com.  

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Laramee Bishop

Laramee Bishop is a sports journalist hailing from San Diego. She currently works as a producer and editor at NFL Network in Los Angeles. Her previous line of work includes: U-T San Diego, U-T TV, Quiksilver, and TransWorld Media.
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