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Antonio Gates: 'I ain't asking to play less'

Antonio Gates would like to clear something up.

The San Diego Chargers tight end took heat this week after suggesting that he would like to dial back his snaps in 2015. On Friday, Gates went out of his way to clarify that he wasn't complaining about a campaign that saw him score 12 touchdowns -- the second most of his career.

"One thing about me is I love to compete," Gates told U-T San Diego. "I want the ball. It's not a selfish act. It's more so I think I can help us win in certain situations and certain areas, particularly in man coverage. That's the competitive nature I've had in this league since I got to San Diego.

"For me, to put in all this work in all these years and have the opportunity to play and say I don't want to play, I don't know where people got that from. It was probably a misquote or a misunderstanding," Gates said. " ... I ain't asking to play less. Every time I'm in a game, I feel like I have the opportunity to make a play. Why would I want to be on the sideline? That defeats the purpose. The only way you can contribute is by being in the game."

Gates actually saw a lesser role last season, playing 787 snaps after logging 996 the previous campaign. Still, only 16 tight ends saw more playing time in 2014, something we expect the Chargers to manage come September.

Embarking on his 13th NFL season, Gates is in the final year of his contract, but he told Around The NFL last August that he shouldn't be viewed as other players his age. Having never played college football, Gates argued that his body has taken less of a toll than his peers.

The more-snaps-less-snaps conversation is the stuff of April. Most of these hazy offseason narratives melt away when the real games begin, the injuries mount and teams like the Chargers are forced to turn to their most dependable characters.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast breaks down Adrian Peterson's return and discusses the Cleveland Browns' new uniforms. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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