After not playing in week one of the preseason and being held catchless in one series of work in week two, tight end
Gates was proud of his performance but cites his play as a contribution to his team.
“I just try to go out and do what I need to do to help us win,” Gates said. “My job is not to criticize or look at anyone else’s play and say ‘this is what they need to do.’ That’s why they pay the coaches. For me, it’s just to go out and try to do things I can to do help us win, and that’s what I was trying to do today.”
Quarterback Philip Rivers was equally as impressed with Gates since their touchdown was the first-team’s first points of the preseason.
“It was nice that with the starting unit out there we were able to end our three series on the day that way,” Rivers said. “Gates just catches touchdowns, the way he has always done. It was important that those 11, the first unit, was able to finish the drive like that. It was the first time we have gotten into the end zone.”
The connection between Rivers and Gates is something really special. With over a decade of experience shared between them, Gates said he has an inkling when Rivers is about to send the ball his way and mentioned today’s touchdown felt no different.
“I kind of knew I was going to get it, I could kind of tell because I almost jumped offsides,” he said. “It’s one of those things that when you’ve been playing with someone for so long you kind of have a relationship and a bond that’s somewhat unexplainable. That’s how it ended up unfolding.”
Head Coach Mike McCoy knows the bond between numbers 17 and 85 is indescribable and invaluable to his team, but also described how Gates is an integral part to the Chargers offense.
“He and Philip can go out there with blindfolds on and complete balls,” McCoy said. “We said that from day one here. (Gates has) the knowledge of system we’re playing in. (He has) the knack for getting open, understanding down-and-distance situations, when you can break a route off a little quicker than others, the technique of defenders and have that knack for making the plays, that’s what he's done his entire career.”
With the tight end entering his 12th season in the league, some may speculate if Gates still has the “it-factor” that has made him an eight-time Pro Bowl player. Ask his teammates and you’ll get nothing but resounding support for him.
“I expect (his play) now,” said fellow tight end