Gates' four-game suspension for violating the NFL Policy and Program for performance-enhancing substances is complete, allowing him to rejoin the team on Monday.
The tight end noted that he has a new mindset following his suspension. Gates thought back to a phrase that offensive coordinator Frank Reich used to describe his mindset about being back.
"Frank (Reich) had a term about rebooting, and that's kind of basically what I've done," Gates said via the team's official site. "It's like it's all new again. It's a new fresh start, and you have to come in and establish yourself all over again.
Even though guys know me, have been around me and know the kind of person I am, that still doesn't discredit the fact that you have to come out and do it. So I'm back ready to reestablish who I am as a player and who I am as a person."
Gates, however, did admit that he refused to watch the team's television broadcasts during the first four weeks of the season. Instead, he took a different route in order to keep tabs on his team.
"Ironically, I didn't watch any games. I watched it from the phone or from the computer," Gates said. "I didn't want to hear what they had to say. I didn't want to be tarnished with any word play that they were going to use in terms of me or what I brought to the table. I wanted to come back with a clear mind and just be able to help."
Gates only needs one more touchdown reception to reach 100 for his career. The veteran is also the team's all-time leader in receptions (788), receiving yards (10,014) and touchdown receptions (99). Despite his immense success throughout his career, Gates admits he's nervous to take the field for the Chargers' Monday Night Football matchup against the Steelers.
"I can't put it into words what it means to be back in front of these fans," he said. "... So there's nervousness but it's exciting, too. I haven't had the reps these guys have had lately, but I've been playing longer than everybody. Hopefully it will be like riding a bike. That's kind of my vision of how it will go. I'm just going to take it one step at a time."