San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates has been one of the premier tight ends in the NFL since leaving Kent State University in northern Ohio. The past couple of seasons, Gates has been slowed—not by age or ability—but by something called plantar fasciitis, an injury to his foot.
Gates' injury has healed and last month the tight end expressed his excitement about returning to his typical high level of play. Chargers head coach Norv Turner seconded Gates' proposition of him returning as one of the top players at his position.
"Gates looks great — he's back," Turner said. "Physically, he's back to where we want him to be. I think, like anybody, going through this offseason program helps you get better. [It's] the combination of conditioning, the combination of getting better in the areas you can improve, and being out there with your teammates."
While it's best to take offseason remarks from players and coaches with a grain of salt—and wise to take all comments from coaches with the smallest of grains—if what Gates and Turner are saying is true, not only will Gates return as a dominant force on the field, but the Chargers as a whole will resume their top spot in the AFC West.