FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — A year ago as his season ended, Antonio Gates said he wanted to return for another year and talked of his goal of getting to a Super Bowl.
He may have been one of the few convinced that could happen as a Charger. And after being brought back in because of Hunter Henry’s injury, and being part of a team that got within two victories of Atlanta, the 38-year-old Gates indicated Sunday afternoon he’d like at least one more crack at it, as a Charger.
“I just don’t see myself walking away with this taste,” he said after a 41-28 divisional-round loss to New England. “Plus this team, when you add Hunter back and hopefully we get (cornerback) Jason Verrett back, the sky’s the limit and I want to be a part of it.
“But … that has to be a collective decision. I can’t just want to come back. We’ll see how it goes.”
Initially, the Chargers decided to move on from Gates last spring, putting their tight end position in the hands of Henry and signee Virgil Green. But Henry suffered a knee injury in training camp that kept him sidelined until Sunday, when he was activated, played 14 snaps and was targeted once.
And when Henry went down, Gates was brought back. The veteran was no longer Philip Rivers’ first go-to option, but he finished the regular season with 28 catches for 333 yards and two touchdowns. He had four for 33 yards in Baltimore last week, three of those being third-down catches for first downs.
Sunday he was targeted eight times and caught five for 41 yards, two for first downs and another for the Chargers’ last touchdown, with 59 seconds left.
The assumption then was that pass might be the end of an era. Rivers and Gates had teamed up for 89 regular season touchdowns, and this was their first playoff connection.
“Pretty cool that if it were to be his last one, that his last catch was a touchdown,” Rivers said in the interview room. “You’re talking about a guy that’s caught more than anybody in the history of tight ends, and he and I have thrown more in the history of quarterbacks and tight ends … You’d look back one day and say it ended just how it started there a long time ago.”
Gates isn’t ready to go, but he realizes the ultimate decision lies with general manager Tom Telesco and coach Anthony Lynn. Thus, the collective decision.
“Of course, I think I can still play,” he said. “Do they think I can still play? I know (opponents) think I can play, because they keep doubling me.
” … I would have to sit down with the head coach and the people who make these decisions and express my feelings and how motivated I am to come back, even better, as a player and as a teammate.
“Hopefully they’re going to bring me back.”
@Jim_Alexander on Twitter
Note from WSOE.Org : This content has been auto-generated from a syndicated feed.