Given the injury history of tight end Antonio Gates, the San Diego Chargers have to start planning for life after the soon to be 33 year old retires. The tight end position is a huge part of the majority of NFL offenses these days so the Bolts must do their part in developing an adequate replacement. That’s where 2012’s fourth round pick Ladarius Green factors into the equation.
Coming into the league from a small school in Louisiana- Lafayette, Green had some serious adjustments to make in his rookie year last season to the speed of the game. He seldom saw the field as a result, but his Week 11 showing against the Denver Broncos where he hauled in three catches for 25 yards showed that he is a viable option to assume the position whenever Gates calls it quits.
At 6’6” 240lbs., Green is taller than Gates but still needs to add some bulk to his frame to have a legitimate tight end body. A player that Green compares favorably to is New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham who is 6’7” 265 lbs. Even getting Green up to 250lbs. for this upcoming season would be a huge improvement that would greatly aid his cause in attempting to get open in the red zone.
Obviously the competition for Green in camp will be Gates as far as reps are concerned, but Randy McMichael is no longer in San Diego. Former Dallas Cowboys tight end and free agent signing John Phillips will be the main competition for the second tight end role. The two figure to share the reps as the second tight end with Phillips being more of a blocker and Green being a better pass catching option.
As the NFL shows us year after year, however, players are always just one play away from becoming starters. Gates has dealt with various foot issues over the past few seasons which could pave the way for either of these guys to see extensive playing time in the regular season. Training camp will be a great place for Green to learn from the master in Gates and try to add some of his tactics to his own game.
Green’s spectacular collegiate numbers (149 receptions for 2,201 yards and 22 touchdowns) hint at just what his potential could be at the NFL level. The Chargers have to focus in on cultivating that talent during training camp to make sure they are fully prepared for life after Antonio Gates. The positive side of that is Green should begin to show serious flashes with an increased role this coming season, and the Bolts will know for sure just what they have in the former fourth rounder.