Plagued by foot injuries that have kept him out of nine games over the last two season, San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates is a healthy participant in the team's offseason program, Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego reported.
"Gates looks great â he's back," Chargers coach Norv Turner told the newspaper. "Physically, he's back to where we want him to be. I think, like anybody, going through this offseason program helps you get better. (It's) the combination of conditioning, the combination of getting better in the areas you can improve, and being out there with your teammates."
Even though the injuries have reduced his availability, Gates has remained productive over the past two seasons. In 23 games, Gates registered 114 receptions for 1,560 yards and 17 touchdowns, and has gone to back-to-back Pro Bowls, receiving that honor for eight consecutive seasons. How much longer that will continue, however, is another matter.
Gates turns 32 next month. The Chargers have prepared themselves for more injuries or a decline in production this offseason. The club re-signed Randy McMichael, added Dante Rosario in free agency and used a fourth-round pick on Louisiana-Lafayette tight end Ladarius Green, who measures in at 6-foot-6 and 235 pounds and caught 149 passes for 2,201 yards and 22 touchdowns in 46 games in college. Down the road, the Chargers view Green as a potential starter, but would like to see him bulk up to between 245 and 250 pounds first.