Chargers tight end Antonio Gates has caught 537 passes in his career.
For the past two weeks, he's received only suggestions.
Freeze a water bottle and roll your foot over it. Use heel cuffs. Wear flip flops.
“You'd be amazed with how many people on Twitter give me different solutions to try to solve my problem,” Gates said Wednesday with a laugh.
After missing last week's game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Gates has decided that prolonged rest is the best route to take if he's to overcome his torn plantar fascia suffered last October.
“To me, it's the only solution I haven't tried yet, and I think that's where I'm at with it at this point,” said Gates, who spent the offseason without the benefit of the Chargers training staff due to the lockout. "I've done just about whatever it is you can do. Whatever you can imagine, I've done it. So at this point, rest is the only thing that was left for me to try to do and to figure out how to get this thing healed and get back on the football field.”
The Chargers have two games before their Week 6 bye. Asked if he would sit them out and return in Week 7, Gates, 31, couldn't say.
However extremely unlikely, even this Sunday could be a possibility, he said.
"In a span of two to three days, I've seen miracles happen with my body," Gates said. “I'm just trying to stay in it mentally. That's all I can do. Hopefully I can get to the point where I can contribute physically for this football team because, ideally, that's what I get paid to do. I'm just trying to stay in it mentally until I'm able to do something physically.”
Gates finds reasons to stay optimistic.
When he tears scar tissue and it rebuilds, his foot feels stronger than it did before. The pain now is less severe than last October when he tore his plantar fascia and began dealing with plantar fascitis.The condition no longer troubles him when he wakes up in the morning. He can walk pain-free.
It only hurts when he plays.
"I just have to take time off," Gates said.
He plans to test the foot every day. When he feels pain while running and cutting, he knows he must wait longer. When he feels mere soreness, he's ready.
"I'm quite sure there's going to be some soreness there, and I can deal with that," Gates said. "But pain is my number one determinant factor in whether I go or don't go. It ain't the soreness. It has nothing to do with soreness.
"The one thing I've learned over the last eight years is if you can only play when you're 100 percent healthy, then you really serve no purpose to this team, this league. That ain't what I'm trying to do. I'm not trying to get to a point where it's all going away. I'm just trying to get to a point where I can tolerate it and go out and play."
Retirement Not an Option
Not one time, Gates said, has retirement crossed his mind.
He still feels young. The foot is his only issue. With a little time, he believes wholeheartedly he can contribute to the Chargers.
If the pain scale is measured between one to 10, Gates' foot is at a three or four, he said.
"It's not something that I have to worry about long term," Gates said. "I consider it like a toothache. Sometimes you can take aspirin and you can take medication to temporarily get rid of it, but ultimately, you have to solve the problem. I think that's where the rest is coming in at this point.
"I'm just trying to solve the problem. I'm tired of doing things temporarily."
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