Gates will make trip to Can­ton

Los Angeles Times - - FOOTBALL - By Dan Woike dan.woike@la­times.com Twit­ter: @DanWoikeS­ports

An­to­nio Gates will some­day end up in Can­ton, Ohio, where the Pro Foot­ball Hall of Fame is lo­cated. It’s not a ques­tion of “if ” but “when.”

But be­cause of An­thony Lynn’s first mini-con­tro­versy as the Charg­ers’ new coach, there all of a sud­den was a ques­tion of “if ” Gates would get to Can­ton … this week­end.

A re­port ear­lier in the week in­di­cated Lynn was block­ing Gates and quar­ter­back Philip Rivers from at­tend­ing Satur­day’s in­duc­tion of their for­mer team­mate, LaDainian Tom­lin­son.

Lynn said Tues­day that Gates would be at­tend­ing the cer­e­mony — do­ing so with team per­mis­sion to miss a joint prac­tice with the Rams at StubHub Cen­ter. Rivers will not at­tend the cer­e­mony and will be at prac­tice.

“Some things, you feel like, you’ll never get back,” Gates said. “Op­por­tu­ni­ties like this one, in terms, come once in a life­time. You’re talk­ing about a guy I played with here. He was the wheels on the tank, if you will. He was a sta­ple of what we did here, and I was a big part of that as well.

“When you have a guy that you played with be­tween the lines and bat­tled with, you al­ways want to be there to sup­port him for a spe­cial event like this.”

Gates said Lynn was sup­port­ive of his de­ci­sion.

“We had a good talk; for­tu­nately he was un­der­stand­ing,” Gates said. “It’s hard be­cause you have some­thing go­ing on here. You want to be in both places. Then you’ve just got to try fig­ure out and pick what could you not get back. And that’s what I had to come up with.

“Coach was very, very un­der­stand­ing — un­be­liev­able in how he un­der­stands. And, he’s played in this league so you wouldn’t ex­pect less than a guy like that who un­der­stands how to run a team and un­der­stands play­ers. And that’s what’s im­por­tant. He re­ally un­der­stands peo­ple. He was able to say, fine, you can go.”

While Gates will be there to sup­port Tom­lin­son, his mind will cer­tainly wan­der to the day when he’ll be the one be­ing en­shrined and his cur­rent team­mates will be beg­ging their coach to miss a prac­tice.

“Ab­so­lutely. Go­ing there, it’s ob­vi­ously his day and it’s not about me, but that’s a goal,” Gates said. “When you play sports, since you were a kid, the ul­ti­mate in­di­vid­ual goal … is go­ing into Can­ton and get­ting a statue of your face for your kids and grand­kids [to see].”

Fi­nally get­ting to hit

Eight-year veter­ans such as of­fen­sive tackle Joe Barks­dale and de­fen­sive tackle Corey Li­uget have gone through prac­tices like Tues­day’s through­out their ca­reers.

They’ve gone months with­out pads on, work­ing on hand place­ment, foot­work and drilling tech­niques. And, when it’s time to fi­nally go live and hit, they know to greet the change with a mea­sured re­ac­tion.

“You can’t just jump off the line of scrim­mage and for­get all your tools,” Barks­dale said.

But for a rookie such as third-round pick Dan Feeney, keep­ing cool was a big­ger chal­lenge.

“This is real foot­ball,” Feeney said. “You’re com­ing out here play­ing with some Pro Bowlers. … Some of the great­est foot­ball play­ers ever. You don’t want to be that guy jump­ing up and be­ing too giddy.”

Feeney, an of­fen­sive guard, was able to keep it to­gether, he said, though he did en­joy fi­nally go­ing full con­tact. “Our job,” Feeney said, “is to hit peo­ple and move peo­ple.”

Notes

Lynn said for­mer Pro Bowl cor­ner­back Ja­son Ver­rett, who missed most of last sea­son with a torn knee lig­a­ment, could come off the phys­i­cally un­able to per­form list by the end of the week. … With Ver­rett out, Craig Mager had been get­ting the first-team reps at cor­ner­back op­po­site Casey Hay­ward, but Trevor Williams re­placed Mager with the top de­fen­sive lineup Tues­day. Williams earned a de­fen­sive hold­ing penalty dur­ing 11on-11 drills. … Re­ceiver Tyrell Williams blew past Mager in team drills for a long catch from Rivers. … For­mer USC cen­ter Max Tuerk, the Charg­ers’ third-round pick in 2016, took his first reps of the day as the sec­ond-team left guard. Feeney worked as the sec­ond-string cen­ter. … Un­drafted rookie kicker Younghoe Koo hit all seven of his kick at­tempts and in­cum­bent kicker Josh Lambo hit six, miss­ing left from 43 yards. … De­fen­sive end Joey Bosa was a con­stant pres­ence in the of­fen­sive back­field dur­ing team pe­ri­ods. … Re­ceiver Geremy Davis didn’t par­tic­i­pate in prac­tice be­cause of an undis­closed in­jury.

De­nis Poroy As­so­ci­ated Press

AN­TO­NIO GATES will get to see LaDainian Tom­lin­son’s in­duc­tion into the Hall for Fame.

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