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Sun., Jul. 19, 2015 7:30 AM PDT
Ladarius Green Showing Glimpses of a Bright Future
Ladarius Green entered his rookie season extremely raw, requiring time to fully put everything together. But the 22-year old fourth-round pick out of Louisiana-Lafayette has the size and skillset to be a tremendous tight end for years to come.
Luckily, he was given that time to develop as the Chargers’ roster boasts three veteran tight ends. The unit is comprised of one of the greatest pass-catching tight ends in NFL history in Antonio Gates, one of the best blocking tight-ends in the game today in Randy McMichael and a sharp veteran in Dante Rosario who showed how dangerous he can be when earlier this year he boasted a three touchdown game against the Tennessee Titans. As a result, Green used this as guidance and had time to develop his craft.
“It’s been amazing to learn from these guys,” he said following Thursday’s practice. “The older guys have pulled me aside and tried to teach me as much as they can. They’ve encouraged me a lot and have told me how and when I need to step my game up. This is what I envisioned when I came here as a rookie knowing who was on this team. I’m trying to (incorporate) their game into mine. I’m trying to learn as much as I can from all three of those guys. It’s a lot to take in because those guys have been in the league for so long. I’m just trying to learn from all of them.”
An injured hamstring has forced Rosario to miss the last two games, and as a result Green has gotten an opportunity to show how much he’s grown and matured since training camp ended. So far, he’s displayed glimpses of a bright future in this league. Against the Denver Broncos, he had three catches for 25 yards, and was thrown to on critical third downs, which showed the confidence Philip Rivers has in the young tight end to deliver. Even though he didn’t record a catch against the Baltimore Ravens, Green was still a big part of the game plan.
“It’s a great feeling to be able to contribute,” he said. “It’s a great feeling that Philip (Rivers) trusts me to throw me the ball. He trusts that I’m going to catch it and make a play. You’re supposed to be out there to do something, so I’m trying to make plays for the team. There’s nothing like learning on the field, so it’s been great to get that chance.”
Perhaps the biggest testament to how good a player Green can become came from Gates’ extensive praise for the young rookie.
“To me, the key is you can see how much he wants to get better,” said the future Hall-of-Famer. “You have guys in me and Randy who have played for a long time, and then you add Dante. (Green’s) shown a great desire to learn from all three of us to help him grow as a player. And physically, his greatest strength is that he’s an athlete. He can make plays in the passing game which you’ve seen. But he also understands the offense, understands things in the passing game and in the running game that have come a long way. That’s where in my mind he’s grown the most. He has a chance to be a very good player in this league for a long time.”