Gates a game-time decision after third missed practice

SAN DIEGO -- Antonio Gates' limp suggested that he's going to have a hard time playing Sunday when his San Diego Chargers face the Indianapolis Colts in a divisional round playoff game.

Officially, Gates was listed as doubtful on the Chargers' injury report Friday. The star tight end, who missed a third straight day of practice on Friday, said the decision on whether he plays will be made Sunday morning.

"It's definitely going to be a game-time decision," Gates said Thursday. "I'm not going to make any decisions before that. We're just going to wait to see how it feels on Sunday."

All-Pro fullback Lorenzo Neal, who returned to practice on Wednesday exactly one month after breaking his lower left leg, was listed as questionable after practicing on both Thursday and Friday. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie and kicker Nate Kaeding, who both missed practice on Friday, were listed as probable.

Gates was hurt in the second quarter of Sunday's 17-6 wild-card win over the Tennessee Titans and didn't return.

His left foot was in a boot Thursday.

"It's pretty sore. It's going to be sore. That's expected with this kind of injury," he said. "I've still got a couple of days to do treatment and get some rest on it."

Gates, San Diego's leading receiver the last four seasons, said his confidence level is 50-50.

"It's a tricky situation, really it is," Gates said. "As far as the risk and reward, I'm trying to measure that. If all else fails, I'm going to definitely be cheering. I have a lot of confidence in the guys in this locker room. They definitely have the confidence that I'm going to do everything I can the safest way for me to get out there and play."

Gates hasn't put any pressure on the toe, so Sunday "would be the first true test on how much I can do on it. It's going to be interesting because we're doing everything we possibly can but it's still nature. The human body is the human body and we'll just kind of see what happens on Sunday."

That's when the Chargers will see if Gates can run and cut.

"I'm still optimistic because he's optimistic," coach Norv Turner said.

Gates had 75 catches for 984 yards and nine touchdowns. If he can't play, he'll be replaced by Brandon Manumaleuna.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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