Antonio Gates: “Challenging” to play smaller role, but it’s about the “bigger picture”

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The Chargers were ready to move on without tight end Antonio Gates this season, but reversed course after Hunter Henry tore his ACL in offseason workouts.

Gates isn’t playing the same kind of role that he played for most of his first 15 seasons with the Chargers. He has 19 catches for 239 yards and two touchdowns while playing on just under 33 percent of the team’s offensive snaps this season.

Gates would like to be doing more, but said it is in “my best interest and my team’s best interest that I continue to stay positive in terms of where we’re trying to go” because he needs to be ready to make a play at any moment.

“It’s challenging when you become accustomed to doing something for so long and doing it at a high level,” Gates said, via “But the bigger picture is not what I can do individually. It’s more about the team and what I can do to help us win, and I just need to be ready for that time, whenever it’s called.”

Gates showed he can be effective when circumstances dictate throwing in his direction with a season-high five catches and 80 yards against the Broncos a couple of weeks ago and caught a key two-point conversion in a win over the Steelers that made the big picture a little brighter last Sunday.