Gates expects the unexpected

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Johnny Lightning

Go Bolts
Feb 7, 2006

Casey Pearce
Posted Jan 15, 2010

Antonio Gates said Thursday that he expects New York’s top-ranked defense to throw the kitchen sink at San Diego Sunday, but the six-time Pro Bowl tight end believes the Chargers have the firepower to be successful regardless of how they’re defended.

Chargers tight end Antonio Gates has heard the talk shows discuss the Jets’ defense at length this week. There’s been debate over how New York will use safety Kerry Rhodes to shadow him; how they’ll roll zones toward him or how they’ll double him.
One thing Gates has learned is that particularly when it comes to postseason football: expect the unexpected.
“Sometimes you may prepare a certain way but the game presents itself in a whole different way,” Gates said. “I think we are definitely prepared and ready to play but at the same time we understand that in a playoff game, your ability to adapt is just as important as anything else you can do. We have some things on film that we see but we’re not really for sure that things will be played exactly that way because there are so many guys that can make plays on this offense.”
Just a few months removed from major toe surgery, Gates had a touchdown catch against the Jets in the last meeting between the two teams, one that came in Week 3 of the 2008 season. New York has since changed coaching staffs and is much different defensively. Gates has the utmost respect for the Jets’ top-ranked defense.
“The way they pressure and the way their corners are very physical makes it a challenge,” Gates said. “They have a lot of guys who can make plays on their defense. With that being said, we have guys that can make plays offensively so we don’t want to get caught up in what they are doing defensively because we still have to worry about playing San Diego Chargers football.”
Much has been made this week about the likelihood that New York will commit Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis to exclusively cover Vincent Jackson. That would seem to put a bigger onus on Gates to come away with a big performance, but the six-time Pro Bowler sees Sunday’s game as much bigger than an individual matchup or two.
“We play together as a unit,” Gates said. “There’s no situation where I feel like there’s pressure on me or the team for that matter. If we continue to do the things that we’ve been doing since up until the postseason, then the San Diego Chargers are going to be fine.
“Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up into the hype and everything else but our main focus is to prepare as well as we can and go out and have fun because these types of opportunities come once in a lifetime.”

Status quo

The Chargers had no changes on their injury report Thursday. Punter Mike Scifres (groin) fully participated in practice and was the only player on the report.
For the Jets, running back Thomas Jones (knee) fully participated after sitting out Wednesday, while defensive end Shaun Ellis (knee) was limited.

Heavy heart

Every member of the Chargers organization was devastated by news of the devastating earthquakes that hit the Caribbean nation of Haiti earlier this week. For defensive end Jacques Cesaire, the tragedy hits close to home.

Cesaire’s parents immigrated to the United States from Haiti in 1976. He has an uncle that still lives in the island nation, and his family has been unsuccessful in their attempts to reach him.
“My mom is pretty shaken up about it,” Cesaire said. “We’re all praying that everything works out. My uncle lives in the central part of the country, closer to the Dominican Republic, so we’re optimistic that he’s okay. But it breaks my heart that so many other people aren’t alright.”
Cesaire’s mother grew up in the capital city of Port-au-Prince, the area most heavily affected by the tragedy. He has never visited his parents’ native country, but has a great understanding of and appreciation for the Haitian culture.
“The people are resilient, hard-working and strong,” Cesaire said. “They’ll bounce back, but they need our help and our prayers.”
Fans can help by text messaging “HAITI” to 90999. A donation of $10 will be given automatically to the Red Cross to help with relief efforts, and the charge will appear on the next cell phone bill.

Weather watch

It appears that rain is no longer in the forecast for Sunday, but should showers invade San Diego, fans are reminded that umbrellas are not permitted inside Qualcomm Stadium.
Rain or shine, Turner doesn’t expect the weather to have an effect on the game.
“We played Tennessee in the rain in the playoffs, the first playoff game that I was here,” Turner said. “It doesn’t get bad and the forecast doesn’t look like it would be bad where it would be an issue.”

Getting to the game

Sunday’s sellout crowd will likely cause delays for fans as they make their way to Qualcomm Stadium. Fans are encouraged to allow themselves plenty of time, and public transportation is a wise alternative to driving.
The Trolley and Chargers Express Bus are available options, and fans that take advantage of them also have an opportunity to receive a special souvenir. The Chargers and MTS have partnered to develop a Playoff Commemorative Day Pass. The Commemorative Day Passes are now available at the Chargers Team Store at Qualcomm Stadium and at MTS’ Transit Store.