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Improving Gates "Very Antsy" to Return

Tight end wants no risk of further injury when he does

By Michael Gehlken
|  Thursday, Oct 13, 2011  |  Updated 10:14 AM PDT
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Antonio Gates #85 of the San Diego Chargers looks on from the sideline against the Oakland Raiders at Qualcomm Stadium on December 5, 2010 in San Diego, California.

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Run a seam route. Block a pass rusher. Seal a running lane.

There was a day, tight end Antonio Gates remembers, when the Chargers asked him to be a difference maker on the football field.

He badly wants that role again, he said Tuesday, adding and reiterating there is no set-in-stone timeline for his return from a torn plantar fascia.

"I'm very antsy on that sideline," Gates said. "I can't help but to be because I'm used to being out there. But at the same time, the objective is to win a football game, and everybody has a role on this football team. Unfortunately, my role hasn't been participating. My role has been cheering, patting on the back, slapping on the numbers."

Could a role reversal be coming?

Around the team facility, there is hope that Gates, who's missed the past three games, can play in the Chargers' first game after their Week 6 bye, an Oct. 23 tilt with the New York Jets. Coach Norv Turner said if the team feels Gates can return then, the plan will be for him to start practicing next week.

Playing the Jets may be Gates' hope, but that's not his greatest goal.

"Physically, (the foot) feels a lot better," Gates said. "I can't make any predictions because I don't want to hold up to that, especially with the way it's been going, fluctuating up and down ... For me, it's to be at peace with it, structurally. That's my biggest goal. Just to be at peace with it.

"I can deal with certain circumstances (such as pain), as long as I know I'm in the comfort zone of nothing else happening besides what's going on down there now. "

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