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NFL San Diego Chargers

Antonio Gates Holds Keys To San Diego Chargers’ Offense

Antonio Gates - San Diego Chargers

Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESSWIRE

It would be fair to say that both fantasy football owners and the San Diego Chargers expected more from tight end Antonio Gates coming into the 2012 NFL season. To this point, Gates has been far below expectations with just 13 catches for 143 yards and zero touchdowns. This has to change if the Bolts want any chance at reaching the ultimate prize at the end of the season.

There’s no secret that the Chargers run through Gates offensively. As he goes, they go. That could be partially to blame for why the club has struggled so mightily at times on offense during this 2012 campaign. His ability to take safeties out of the box and keep them honest to his speed and athleticism opens up holes for both the running game and the receivers on the outside.

While injuries have given him fits over the bulk of the past three seasons, this year Gates finally entered the schedule with no lingering ailments. He was sidelined however for week two following a season opening rib injury against the Oakland Raiders. The injury hasn’t seemed to be the issue for him to this point, but there could still be some lingering concern that isn’t apparent on the field.

For the Bolts offense to realize its true potential this year there is no doubt that Gates holds the keys. If he is able to get back in form and find the creases in the defense that he normally excels at, this town is destined for big things. Much of the expectations put on the running game and Ryan Mathews’ breakout season was due to Gates finally being one hundred percent healthy.

When the Denver Broncos visit Qualcomm Stadium Monday night, there is no doubt that quarterback Philip Rivers will be looking for his favorite weapon in Gates early and often. The Broncos have surrendered the 6th most fantasy points to tight ends this year so there will likely be some real estate for Gates to work with. Hopefully this match-up will help both Gates and the Bolts offense get jump-started so that they can finally live up to expectations.

Follow Anthony Blake on Twitter @AnthonyMBlake or on Facebook at Anthony Mizarkus Blake