It’s Another Season For bobgretz.com

The focus shifts from vacation to training camp for the Chiefs as the 2014 NFL season begins. The coming week will also be when full coverage kicks back in for bobgretz.com.

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Chiefs Training Camp Practice #2 – 7/22

From St. Joseph, Missouri

The hottest day of the year – so far – greeted the Chiefs rookies and selected veterans for the second practice of training camp here at Missouri Western State University. It was hot, muggy, steamy, broiling . . . otherwise typical training camp weather for the Midwest.

Some would say Eric Fisher’s timing was poor. Last year’s No. 1 NFL draft choice was on the field Tuesday, upping the head count among offensive linemen to four. Fisher is coming off dual surgeries from the off-season, on his shoulder and for a sports hernia.

Hot weather or not, Fisher was very glad to be wearing his red No. 72 and wiping off little rivers of sweat that rolled off his head.

“I had the surgeries and I needed to get out here and get situated before the vets get here,” Fisher said after practice. “I’m glad to be here early. It felt good. It was back to football and that’s what I’ve been doing my whole life.” …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Nose Tackle

A half-dozen NFL personnel sources helped us with evaluations of the personnel for AFC West teams going into the 2014 season. We are keeping score to decide the most talented team in the division (on paper). The club with the fewest points will be considered the best, as points match the ratings; example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru NT) – Chargers 42, Broncos 43, Raiders 55, Chiefs 60.

Nose Tackle

1. Dontari Poe, Chiefs

6-3, 346 pounds, born 8/18/1990, 3rd NFL season, selected in the 1st round (#11) of the ’12 NFL Draft by the Chiefs out of the University of Memphis. In two seasons, he played and started 31 games, producing 4.5 sacks and 90 total tackles.

Poe is one of the most unusual players in the NFL right now. First, there’s his body which is a remarkable combination of speed, quickness and power. Then, add in his intelligence and desire to be a great NFL defensive lineman and availability to take nearly every defensive snap over a season and it paints a picture of excellence. Last year, Poe had 1,004 defensive snaps, picking up five sacks and 50 tackles on the season. Over the season he had 36 plays where he affected the passer and he was better playing against the run. The only question around Poe is whether he should get some plays off. …Read More!

Chiefs Training Camp Practice #1 – 7/21

From St. Joseph, Missouri

The Chiefs rookies and selected other veterans went through the first practice of training camp Monday morning at Missouri Western State University.

Only, somebody forgot to tell the wide receivers; there were 35 players on the field and 10 of those were receivers, and just about every one of them dropped multiple passes through the one-hour, 45-minute workout. Tight ends had the same problems.

Balls littering the field are never a good sign for a football team. But on July 21st and the first day of training camp, it’s something to note and move on from, just as long as the receivers bounce back.

“We have to shake off a couple of cobwebs,” said Kyle Williams. “A lot of balls on the ground and we have to clean that up.” …Read More!

Notes: Reid Plans No NFL Visitors For Chiefs


Dee Ford meets the media on first day of training camp in St. Joe

From St. Joseph, Missouri

If you hoped in the near future to see the Chiefs work against another team during training camp, then don’t hold your breath.

This summer there are 10 teams in the league that are going to spend at least one day working against another NFL team. In fact, Atlanta and New England will have practices against two different teams in the course of the next four weeks.

The Chiefs welcomed the Arizona Cardinals to Missouri Western State University in 2012 when Romeo Crennel was head coach. In previous years when the Chiefs trained in Wisconsin, they worked against another NFL team just about every season, especially Minnesota and New Orleans.

Head coach Andy Reid is not a proponent of these games, and it doesn’t sound like he’s going to change his mind any time soon.

“I’ve never been that big on it,” Reid said. “I know a lot of teams do it; a lot of successful teams do it. I just don’t want to give anyone anything that I don’t have to give; there’s already enough of that right here (in camp.) …Read More!

First Wave of Chiefs Arrives In St. Joe

From St. Joseph, Missouri

In the first afternoon of the Chiefs second Camp Andy here on the Missouri Western State University campus, the head coach got right to the point when asked about goals for the 2014 training camp.

“We weren’t good enough last year,” Reid told the media horde outside the team’s home-away from-home, Scanlon Hall. “Doggone we made some strides but we weren’t good enough. The guys know that and they came into the off-season looking forward to getting better. The coaches, we didn’t do a good enough job there, so we went back and re-evaluated some things.

“Now we get to play. Now we get to see if we can’t be a better football team. That’s exciting; that’s what it is all about.”

Over the next three days quarterbacks, a handful of selected veterans and rookies will be on the practice field at Missouri Western each day. They will have walkthrough practices indoors on two of those days. None of those sessions are open to fans. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – O-Line #7

Half-dozen sources in the NFL helped us with our evaluations of the personnel for the AFC West teams going into the 2014 season. We keep score to decide the most talented team in the division (on paper). The club with the fewest points will be considered the best as points match where they are rated. For example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru OL#7) – Chargers 38, Broncos 41, Raiders 52, Chiefs 59.

Offensive line No. 7

1. Will Montgomery, Denver

6-3, 304 pounds, born 2/13/1983, 9th NFL season, 1st with the Broncos who signed him in ’14 as a street free agent from the Redskins. He entered the NFL as a 7th-round (#234) choice in the ’06 NFL Draft by the Panthers out of Virginia Tech University. He has played with Carolina, the N.Y. Jets and Washington. For the past three seasons, Montgomery has started all 16 games each year for the Redskins at center.

Montgomery was a quiet but potentially big addition for the Broncos. He was released by the Redskins in a salary cap-decision that saved the team $2 million under their limit. Should Denver have trouble inside at center or guard, Montgomery brings 90 games of experience into the situation, with starts at both guard positions and center. Last season, he had 1,172 offensive snaps in 16 starts for the ‘Skins. He was penalized 11 times, but allowed only two sacks and 22 total plays where his man bothered the passer. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – O-Line #6

A half-dozen league sources helped us with our evaluations of the personnel for the AFC West teams going into the 2014 season. We are keeping score to decide the most talented division roster (on paper). The team with the fewest points will be considered the best as the points match where the rating. For example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru OL#6) – Chargers 38, Broncos 43, Raiders 52, Chiefs 57.

Offensive line No. 6

1. Jeff Linkenbach, Chiefs

6-6½, 303 pounds, born 6/9/1987, 5th NFL season, 1st-year with Chiefs who signed him as an ’14 unrestricted free agent from the Colts. Linkenbach entered the league as an undrafted rookie free agent in ’10 signed by Indianapolis out of the University of Cincinnati. Coming into the ’14 season, Linkenbach has played 60 games, with 33 starts at both tackles and guard spots.

The signing of Linkenbach achieved one of the foundation goals set by general manager John Dorsey – increase the competition at every position on the roster. Linkenbach gives the Chiefs that increased talent at four of the five offensive line positions, missing only at center. He has started five times at left tackle, 16 times at right tackle, five starts at left guard and seven at right guard. Last season with the Colts in their season that earned them a trip to the playoffs, Linkenbach played 12 games, starting five times (four at right guard, once at right tackle.) He missed several games because of a quad muscle pull. Overall, he saw 395 offensive snaps, with one penalty against him. He allowed two sacks. Evaluations of him ranked his pass blocking ahead of his run blocking. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Right Tackle

A half-dozen NFL front-office sources helped us with our evaluations of the personnel for the AFC West teams going into the 2014 season. We are keeping score to decide the division’s most talented roster (on paper). The team with the fewest points will have the best group, as the point’s match where they are rated. For example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru RT) – Chargers 36, Broncos 40, Raiders 48, Chiefs 56.

Right Tackle

1. Chris Clark, Denver

6-5, 315 pounds, born 10/1/1985, 5th NFL season, signed by the Broncos in ’10 as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Southern Mississippi University. In four seasons, he has played in 56 games with 20 starts, most of those coming in the ’13 season.

Clark and his performance stepping in at left tackle for injured starter Ryan Clady was one of the keys to the Broncos successful ’13 season and quarterback Peyton Manning’s record-setting play. Clark was penalized seven times in the regular season and allowed 7 sacks. That’s not a bad ratio given that he did not miss a snap starting from the third game through the Super Bowl. Overall, he played 1,303 snaps in the season. With Clady expected back at his left tackle spot, Denver’s blocking until becomes even better as Clark goes to right tackle and last year’s right tackle Orlando Franklin moves inside to left guard, it’s a formidable front for the Broncos. …Read More!

Notes From The Chiefs – July 18


From the highways, byways and flyways of America

A thought or two about a thing or four as St. Joe grows bigger in the windshield . . .

Getting those last swings in

Chiefs quarterback was very talkative on Wednesday and Thursday, largely because he was accessible to the media at the American Century Championship at Lake Tahoe.

Smith went off Friday morning in the first round of the event at the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course, playing with Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer and Cincinnati TE Tyler Eifert.

On the NFL Network, Smith was asked if new contract terms will be agreed upon any time soon with the Chiefs.

“Who knows?” Smith said. “Certainly, there’s been a lot of continued open conversation between both sides. But come camp for me that’s going to be forgotten about. For me, it’s all about football. And if it gets done, it gets done. But until then, it’s focused on that first game really.”

Other Chiefs related names taking part in the 25th edition of this celebrity tournament are former players Marcus Allen and Trent Green, and former head coach Herm Edwards.

In fact, Herm has the most interesting group, as he will play with former vice-president Dan Quayle and former Notre Dame coach-now ESPN college basketball analyst Digger Phelps.

The defending champion is former NFL quarterback Billy Joe Tolliver. Television coverage on Saturday and Sunday will show up on NBC. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Right Guard

We used over a half-dozen sources for our evaluations of the personnel for the four teams in the AFC West going into the 2014 season. We are keeping score to decide the most talented division roster (on paper). Team with the fewest points will be considered the best as point total matches rating. For example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru RG) – Chargers 29, Broncos 38, Raiders 44, Chiefs 49.

Right Guard

1. Louis Vasquez, Denver

6-4, 330 pounds, born 4/11/1987, 6th NFL season, 2nd-season with the Broncos who signed him in ’13 as an unrestricted free agent from the Chargers. He entered the NFL when he was selected in the 3rd-round (#78) of the ’09 NFL Draft by San Diego out of Texas Tech University. In five seasons he played/started 70 games.

There are NFL scouts that say Vasquez had the best season of any blocker in the league last season. Signed away from a division rival, he was plugged right into the starting lineup. In 20 games for Denver, he graded out by most scouts evaluation positive in 19 of those games. The one he missed was the Super Bowl when he was inconsistent against Seattle. But in those games, he was a machine, playing every snap except 15 plays in the Super Bowl. That was 1,443 snaps on offense and in the regular season he had just two penalties called against him. Vasquez did not allow a sack and his man got near quarterback Peyton Manning just 14 times in 16 regular season games. Consider that he pass blocked on 643 plays last year, the fact Vasquez did not allow a sack of Manning ranks among the season’s top efforts. Only Green Bay left guard Josh Sitton’s performance was close to Vasquez among all NFL blockers. …Read More!

Waiting For Smith & Houston Deals

At a time when the start of Chiefs training camp is so close one can taste it, the chatter has picked up considerably about the contract status of quarterback Alex Smith and outside linebacker Justin Houston.

And, it figures to get only louder in the next week as the first full-team practice of training camp is scheduled for next Thursday afternoon in St. Joseph. The players, the fans and the Chiefs want these contract extensions and/or new contracts done, signed and put into the fulfillment/payout box in the Hunt Family vault.

In the NFL more often than not the big-money deals need a deadline for completion. Right now, there is no deadline for either deal to be done between the players and Chiefs over the next six months. Both Smith and Houston are under contract for the 2014 season and there is not much either player can do to challenge that fact. They could stage a holdout, but that is not an option they should consider for several different reasons.

There’s been no indication that Smith will not show; he was active in all parts of the off-season program. On Wednesday, every media outlet except the Tool & Dye Times was reporting that Houston was “expected” to report next week for camp, but that he “wasn’t happy” about the lack of a new deal. There were no names attached to these “scoops” but it would be unusual at this point in the drama for Houston sources to start talking, even behind closed doors and only identified as “sources close to the situation.”

But it’s just common sense that Houston will show next Wednesday. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Left Guard

In this series of stories we analyze the four teams in the AFC West position-by-position. We used over a half-dozen sources for our evaluations, relying on pro personnel scouts around the league and a few coaches as well. As we go along, we’ll keep score and find out which of the four AFC West teams has the most talented roster (on paper); in this case the team with the fewest points will be considered the best. Points match where they are rated. For example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru LG) – Chargers 26, Broncos 37, Raiders 42, Chiefs 45.

Left Guard

1. Chad Rinehart, San Diego

6-5, 320 pounds, born 5/4/1985, 7th NFL season, 2nd-season with Chargers who signed him as an unrestricted free agent in ’13 from the Bills. He entered the NFL selected in 3rd-round (#96) of ’08 NFL Draft by the Redskins out of Northern Iowa. Rinehart spent two seasons with the Washington before he was released. He spent time on the practice squads of the Jets and Bills, and Buffalo promoted him to the active roster in December ’10.

The left guard position is not one of the strongest spots in the AFC West and Rinehart must be considered a shaky holder of the No. 1 ranking. Last season with San Diego, he played in 11 games, starting at both left and right guard. Reinhart missed time because of a foot injury and played 684 offensive snaps, committed two penalties and he allowed just one sack of quarterback Philip Rivers. Rinehart was much stronger in pass blocking than in the run game last year, although that didn’t seem to slow down running back Ryan Mathews; he ran for more than 1,000 yards. …Read More!

2014 Training Camps Start Opening On Wednesday

By the end of business on Wednesday, three NFL teams will have players in training camp.

Rookies for Baltimore, Buffalo and San Francisco will be in camp, the first wave of the 32 teams with rookies and veterans reporting for the start of the 2014 season. The last group to report will be the Detroit veterans that will show up on July 27th.

But there’s one team where the players may show up early – that’s the New Orleans Saints. Head coach Sean Payton is taking his club to the mountains of West Virginia for the first weeks of training. It will all go down at The Greenbrier Hotel (pictured above) in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. The Saints veterans may show up early because the resort has five golf courses and Tom Watson is the golf professional emeritus. There’s so much more with 55 different activities including off-road driving, horse riding, falconry, a gun club, archery, paint ball, ice skating, fly fishing, a casino, a spa, shopping and 14 restaurants and bars. All of that is on 10,000 acres. It is posh.

And, it’s almost 900 miles away from the Big Easy and about 20 degrees cooler on a daily basis, with much lower humidity. That was the attraction for Payton in helping his players rebound each day from practice.

“Every year we evaluate all areas of our operations and look for ways to improve,” Payton said. “We all understand the importance of training camp – that’s to get the team ready for the regular season. As far as the time we will spend at The Greenbrier, it offers a tremendous opportunity to our team in a more moderate summer climate.”

The Chiefs rookies will not report to first-class resort. They’ll start arriving at Missouri Western State College on Sunday afternoon and have their first practice on Monday. The three rookie practices next week are closed to the public. The veterans report on Wednesday with the first public practice on Thursday.

Andy Reid and his campers are one of 13 NFL teams that do not hold training camp at their regular season facility. More and more teams have stopped transporting players to a remote setting where they stay in a dormitory or hotel. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Center

this series of stories we analyze the four teams in the AFC West position-by-position. We used over a half-dozen sources for our evaluations, relying on pro personnel scouts around the league and a few coaches as well. As we go along, we’ll keep score and find out which of the four AFC West teams has the most talented roster (on paper); in this case the team with the fewest points will be considered the best. Points match where they are rated. For example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru center) – Chargers 26, Broncos 30, Raiders 38, Chiefs 42.

Center

1. Nick Hardwick, San Diego

6-3½, 300 pounds, born 9/3/1981,11th NFL season, selected in the 3rd-round (#66) of the ’04 NFL Draft by the Chargers out of Purdue University.

For the last couple years Hardwick has given serious consideration to retirement. But he’s coming back in ’14 for another season as the leader of the offensive line. He’s played and started 135 games over his first 10 seasons. In ’07-’08 he missed seven games due to a foot injury that required surgery. A major ankle injury in ’09 limited him to three games but since then he’s started all 16 games for the last four seasons. Last season, he was on the field for 1,101 offensive snaps and was called for just two penalties. He did not allow a sack, and gave up just one hit on quarterback Philip Rivers and 14 hurries. Hardwick remains solid blocking for the running game. …Read More!

Time To Tell The Nation About Joe Delaney

Last week I spent over an hour talking on camera with the film crew that is putting together the ESPN 30-for-30 series program on former Chiefs running back Joe Delaney.

Based on the questions I was asked by the producers and the other people that were on the interview list this will be a strong feature that will expose the entire country to Delaney’s story. The questions ranged from his time growing up and living in Haughton, Louisiana, to college at Northwest Louisiana State University and then NFL with the Chiefs. The ending is still a sad one, as Delaney’s died in a construction pond in Monroe, Louisiana where 31 years ago (June 29th) he tried to save three boys that were in trouble. Delaney drowned; he did not know how to swim.

Turns out, the producers behind this project are long-time Chiefs fans, Grant Curtis and Jeremy Wheeler. They are natives to the area; Curtis grew up in Warrensburg, Missouri and was a huge Royals-Chiefs fan over the years. Wheeler is the son of former Chiefs executive Mitch Wheeler the chance to grow up around the team as a child.

Curtis has quite a resume as a producer. Most recently he was one of the executive producers of the 2013 film Oz the Great and Powerful and he served as producer for the three most recent Spiderman movies. He’s worked extensively with director Sam Raimi and has done dozens of documentaries over his career since graduating with from the Central Missouri State University.

This story is one he has wanted to tell for years. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Offensive Surprise

In this series of stories we analyze the four teams in the AFC West position-by-position. We used over a half-dozen sources for our evaluations, relying on pro personnel scouts around the league and a few coaches as well. As we go along, we’ll keep score and find out which of the four AFC West teams has the most talented roster (on paper); in this case the team with the fewest points will be considered the best. Points match where they are rated. For example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru offensive surprise) – Chargers 25, Broncos 31, Raiders 38, Chiefs 42.

Offensive Surprise

1. Latavius Murray, Oakland

6-3, 230 pounds, born 1/18/1990, 2nd NFL season, selected in 6th-round (#181) of the ’13 NFL Draft by the Raiders out of Central Florida University.

Murray was placed on Oakland’s injured-reserve list on August 27th last season and did not play as a rookie because of a foot injury. At Central Florida, he played in 45 games, running for 2,424 yards on 453 carries and 37 touchdown catches. He also caught 50 passes for 524 yards and six touchdown runs. Murray was not invited to the ’13 NFL Combine, but he was impressive in his pro day, turning in a time of 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash, 1.48 seconds in the 10-yard split, with a 36 inch vertical jump and 22 repetitions on the bench press at 225 pounds. In the Raiders off-season work, Murray apparently nailed down the No. 3 RB spot on the Oakland roster. With his size and speed, he will contribute to the Raiders offense. …Read More!

Notes From The Chiefs – July 13

From the highways, byways and flyways of America

A thought or two about a thing or four . . .

A night of nostalgia in San Fran

I’ve been traveling a lot but my itinerary did not get me to the competition I most wanted to attend. No, not the World Cup. Don’t count me as a soccer hater, or soccer lover. All I know is football requires a helmet and a strange oblong ball.

No, the game I missed was Saturday evening in San Francisco at a soon to be demolished Candlestick Park. It was billed as the Legends of Candlestick and was the final event inside the stadium built in the early 1960s for the baseball Giants when they moved to the Bay Area from New York.

This flag-football event drew 25,000 fans and all proceeds were going to police and firemen charities in northern California. The leader of this event was former 49ers-Chiefs quarterback Joe Montana. But he wasn’t the only former player that wore red and gold taking part: quarterback Dave Krieg, quarterback Steve Bono, guard Will Shields, guard Dave Szott, safety Mark Collins and defensive tackle Dan Saleaumua.

Also part of the night was the Chiefs equipment manager Allen Wright. He was asked by Montana to join them and help with the locker room stuff. Montana always bonded with folks that worked behind the scenes and that happened in his two years in K.C. with Wright. That’s Wright posing above with Shields, Montana, Collins, Krieg and Szott.

The game was won by the 49ers alumni 45-40 with Montana connecting with former Niners owner Eddie DeBartolo for the winning score. Eddie D. wandered onto the field from the sidelines and was wide open. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Tight End #3

In this series of stories we analyze the four teams in the AFC West position-by-position. We used over a half-dozen sources for our evaluations, relying on pro personnel scouts around the league and a few coaches as well. As we go along, we’ll keep score and find out which of the four AFC West teams has the most talented roster (on paper); in this case the team with the fewest points will be considered the best. Points match where they are rated. For example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru TE#3) – Chargers 21, Broncos 28, Raiders 34, Chiefs 37.

Tight End #3

1. Virgil Green, Denver

6-3, 248 pounds, born 8/3/1988, 4th NFL season, selected in the 7th-round (#204) of the ’11 NFL Draft by the Broncos out of the University of Nevada-Reno. In three previous seasons with Denver, he played in 43 games, catching 17 passes for 132 yards. Last year, Green caught nine passes for 45 yards.

Even the third tight end catches passes in Peyton Manning’s offense. Green was on the field for 323 snaps and was targeted 11 times; catching nine and he dropped just one pass of the 11. His playing time will be directly tied to his ability to block, something he did last year as 272 of his 344 total offensive snaps (regular and post-season) were as a blocker for the run and pass. On a team with a lot of offensive threats, Green does not get much of a chance to make a name for himself, but he’s more than adequate as the third tight end. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Tight End #2

In this series of stories we analyze the four teams in the AFC West position-by-position. We used over a half-dozen sources for our evaluations, relying on pro personnel scouts around the league and a few coaches as well. As we go along, we’ll keep score and find out which of the four AFC West teams has the most talented roster (on paper); in this case the team with the fewest points will be considered the best. Points match where they are rated. For example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru TE#2) – Chargers 19, Broncos 27, Raiders 31, Chiefs 33.

Tight End #2

1. Ladarius Green, San Diego

6-6, 237 pounds, born 5/29/1990, 3rd NFL season, selected in 4th-round (#110) of the ’12 NFL Draft by the Chargers out of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. In two seasons, Green played in 20 games for San Diego, catching 21 passes for 432 yards and three scores. Last year in 16 games with eight starts he caught 17 passes for 376 yards, including a 60-yarder.

Last year, two of Green’s three touchdown catches came against the Chiefs so they already have an idea of this young man’s growing ability to eventually replace Antonio Gates as San Diego’s No. 1 tight end. One of those scores was a 60-yard TD where Green eluded several Chiefs defenders. He saw 370 offensive snaps and was targeted 28 times with his 17 catches averaging 22.1 yards per reception. Six of his 17 balls went for 20 yards or more. Green has long arms (34½ inches) and big hands (10 1/8 inches) and has been timed in 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He is far more developed as a receiver than blocker and that’s one area of his game that must improve. But his offensive snaps are sure to go up this season and ’14 could be a breakout year from Green.

…Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Tight End #1

In this series of stories we analyze the four teams in the AFC West position-by-position. We used over a half-dozen sources for our evaluations, relying on pro personnel scouts around the league and a few coaches as well. As we go along, we’ll keep score and find out which of the four AFC West teams has the most talented roster (on paper); in this case the team with the fewest points will be considered the best. Points match where they are rated. For example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru TE#1) – Chargers 18, Broncos 24, Raiders 27, Chiefs 31.

Tight End #1

1. Antonio Gates, San Diego

6-4, 260 pounds, born 6/18/1980, 12th NFL season, signed as an undrafted rookie free agent in ’03 by the Chargers out of Kent State University. In his first 11 seasons in San Diego only two other tight ends have caught more passes for more yards than Gates: Tony Gonzalez and Jason Witten. He’s played 163 games (158 starts), made 719 catches for 9,193 yards and 87 touchdown receptions. Gates earned eight trips to the Pro Bowl and two seasons with more than 1,100 receiving yards. After injury-plagued seasons in 2010-11, he missed just one game in the last two seasons. In the Chargers ’13 season, Gates caught 77 passes for 872 yards and four touchdowns.

Gates was the second of the basketball playing tight ends that made a big mark in the NFL, following a few years behind Tony Gonzalez’s entrance into the pros with the Chiefs. When he’s been available, Gates has been productive in all but one season since his rookie year. That was in ’12 when he caught 49 passes for 538 yards, his lowest output since his rookie season. Last year for the first time in four years he was able to play all 16 games and he was on the field for 996 offensive snaps. With Gates out there, quarterback Philip Rivers looked for him, throwing the ball 109 times in his direction. The big man still has his athletic ability as 400 of his 872 receiving yards came after the catch. Last season was a big one for Gates and his future with the Chargers and in the NFL. He has two more seasons to go on his current contract and it’s unlikely he’ll continue with San Diego after this season, especially with the development of backup Ladarius Green. Gates may see his snaps drop this year, but he will not be forgotten, especially by Rivers.

…Read More!

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