"Training camp is where you pay the price. You make the sacrifices and it pays off in the games."
Chargers legend Antonio Gates knows a thing or two about the importance of training camp.
While we may be in the "dog days" of it now, Gates knows better than anyone about the "grind and process" of the work that gets put in during the heat of summer which pays dividends in the fall.
Gates stopped by Chargers Camp last week and shared his thoughts about the reigning offensive rookie of the year, and one of the offense's newest members.
Justin Herbert's "Greatness"
Gates was like many of us last year, blown away by the ability of Justin Herbert to step in at a moment's notice and never look back.
It's been said numerous times, but for Herbert to do what he did after an offseason unlike any other while in the middle of the most unprecedented season in NFL history was truly special.
But to sum it up, Gates saw "greatness."
"I was thinking he was just unbelievable because I understand the dynamic of how hard it is to comprehend all the mental aspects of playing the game. Obviously, his physical ability is off the charts, but to be able to know certain pressures, pick up certain blitzes, put guys in the right positions, make the right throws at the right time [and] understand hot reads. We all have seen greatness, he definitely has it, and now it's about him getting better every single day."
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One of the newest targets for Herbert this season is tight end Jared Cook.
2021 marks Cook's 13th season in the league and according to Gates, make no mistake, that veteran presence will mean something to both Herbert and the Chargers team as a whole.
"Every time you think of quality teams, you think of leadership. Guys that can lead, guys who have had the experience. Obviously, he's been playing at a high level for a long time. At one point, I remember just going against him and competing and saying to myself, 'I gotta come bring it. This guy can play!' Now he's here, he's a part of the Bolt Nation and it's interesting to see how often they'll use him. He can stretch the defense, he can do so many different things, obviously, convert on third down and then obviously when you get in the red zone, become a main target. That helps you win football games at the end of the day.
"You have a guy who can always keep [Herbert] poised, focused on the task at hand, constantly understand what it's like to be a professional in this league, which allows him to grow as a quarterback."
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