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San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates (85) scores a touchdown on the Chargers' first possession depite the effort of Kansas City Chiefs strong safety Eric Berry on Thursday, November 1, 2012 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. (David Eulitt/Kansas City Star/MCT via Getty Images)
Antonio Gates is one of the most prepared for players in the National Football League.
Teams scheme around him.
If they only assign one person to him, it’s Gates over the middle all day. In double coverage someone else on the field is naked, free for quarterback Philip Rivers to fling ball after ball to. Even in double coverage, Gates makes one-handed grabs that only an ex-basketball player would be able to make.
Gates’ next touchdown catch will be his 81st. That will tie the franchise record with Chargers legend Lance Alworth.
Earlier this season, Gates caught his 600th career reception.
Milestones often have a tendency of making people reflect. Gates is no different.
“Any milestone you made or you somehow surpass it gives you a glimpse of everything you’ve been through,” Gates said. “The first thing that comes to mind is, ‘dang, I remember when I was a rookie, free agent. I mean, that’s the first thing I thought about. Growing up in the inner city, overcoming that and to the point where you’re able to say, ‘wow, I’m able to play in the National Football League and I was able to have 600 receptions. That’s where you get your satisfaction from.”
So what does he still carry with him from his youth?
“Just being able to deal with adversity,” Gates said. “Overcoming obstacles is probably the biggest trait, because being in the inner city you have to stray away from certain circumstances. You have to make the right choices in difficult circumstances and I think that’s what holds me together now. It’s like you don’t know where you’re going unless you know what you’ve been through. It’s so cliché but it’s true.”
The Chargers take on Denver on Sunday in Mile High Stadium.
Gates had his best game of the season against the Broncos when they came to the Q. He had six catches for 81 yards and two touchdowns.
Thus far, one of the Broncos’ cracks in their defense has been against tight ends but will definitely do everything they can to stop Gates’ from tying that record.