By now, Antonio Gates thought this would all be over.
After tearing the plantar fascia in his right foot on Oct. 31, the Chargers tight end was told the injury would sideline him for two weeks. Some people have even made it back in one.
“I felt like if anyone could do it,” Gates said, “I could.”
But there Gates was Thursday, four days into injury overtime, shaking his head and raising his palms as he incredulously spoke about dealing with the resistant pain that has put his status for Monday night's game against the Broncos in jeopardy.
Every day he is making what he calls “baby steps” in the right direction, and yet so far, those steps have fallen short.
“This is as probably as frustrated as I've been in my career based on the recovery time,” Gates said. “We thought it was going to be two weeks. It's past two weeks. That's where the frustration sets in. Everybody said about two weeks — the week before Houston and then the bye week and I should be ready to practice throughout this week. I've yet to even go out there and practice.”
Instead, between all the resting, icing, massaging and exercises, Gates has made a full-time job out of his rehabilitation and taken the work home with him. He is also active in the film room for game day preparation.
On Thursday, he tested his foot with the training staff, running lightly and cutting softly. He said it didn't take long to realize the injury wasn't yet at his standard of playing, which is about 70 to 80 percent.
Gates never missed a game due to injury in his eight-year career before sitting out against the Texans on Nov. 7. He said "we've got some ways to go" if he is to play Monday.
"I've just got to keep grinding and keep doing the things necessary to give myself a chance ... to play," Gates said. "Whether or not I can play, I don't know. It's a tear, so it's brutal. It's painful. ... It's a battle, man.”