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Gates' return will aid Chargers' red-zone offense

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Recent posts by Eli Kaberon

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Posted Oct. 20, 2011 @ 2:31 p.m. ET
By Eli Kaberon

Chargers QB Philip Rivers has been at his worst this season when inside the opponent's 20-yard line, completing just 40 percent of his throws and tossing two interceptions. A lot of that has to do with defenses closing in on him and giving the team's vertical passing game less room to operate, a big reason why the return of TE Antonio Gates to the lineup is a welcome one for Rivers.

We hear that Gates, who has been out of the lineup since Week Three because of a foot injury that will slow him all season, is set to return in Week Seven. Although he's still not 100 percent, Gates will see only a limited amount of snaps. Many of them will come in the red zone, where he and Rivers have a strong connection. Over their careers together, the two have connected on 42 touchdowns, with 28 of them within 20 yards of the opponent's endzone. Gates' big frame and good speed makes him the perfect goal-line target for Rivers, and also should create more open spaces for the team's other skill-position players inside the red zone.

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