Gates has battled injuries going back to the 2010 season, but finished the 2012 season with 49 receptions, 538 receiving yards and seven touchdown receptions. His rookie season in 2003 was the only time he had fewer receptions and receiving yards than he had last year.
According to Mike Florio of profootballtalk.nbcsports.com, Gates took offence to the fact that his peers ranked the top 100 NFL players and he came in at No. 73.
“That kind of gave me a chip,” Gates said. “I just feel like the coverages I’ve seen at this position, I don’t really see when I watch other guys they talk about.”
Gates’ most productive game last season was against the Denver Broncos when he had six receptions, 81 receiving yards and two TDs. It was only the second time in Gates’ 10 seasons that he did not have at least 100 receiving yards in a game during a season, the other being 2008 when his season high was 96 yards against the New Orleans Saints.
Gates’ strength is his ability to catch the football. When one compares Gates to other tight ends, he ranked sixth in TD receptions, 19th in receptions and 21st in yards per game last season. Gates ranked 22nd in TD receptions, 76th in receptions and 87th in receiving yards per game among all players.
San Diego needs Gates to have a bounce back season if they are going to make it to the playoffs for the first time since they were eliminated by the New York Jets four seasons ago.
Gates was tied with Danario Alexander for the team lead in TD receptions last year and although he is 33 years old, Gates said in December of last year that the best is still to come.