COSTA MESA, Calif. -- Los Angeles Chargers receiver Keenan Allen said Tuesday, the start of organized team activities, was different from his previous five seasons because friend and mentor Antonio Gates was not there to take the field with him.
"I walked out of the locker room by myself," Allen said. "That ain't happened since I've been here. I came out right on time. We started at like 9:30. Me and Gates are usually the last ones out of the locker room. I was out here by myself today. I definitely miss him."
Allen could reunite with Gates soon, as the Chargers should be making a call to bring back the veteran tight end following Tuesday's news that Hunter Henry suffered a torn ACL in his right knee, potentially ending his season before it starts. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported, citing a source, that the Chargers will consider re-signing Gates, who turns 38 next month.
Last month, the Chargers indicated they no longer needed the services of the future Hall of Famer because of the emergence of Henry. However, now that the Arkansas product has likely been lost for the year, Chargers general manager Tom Telesco may have to reconsider his thoughts on how much Gates can contribute.
With Henry out, the Chargers are woefully thin at the tight end position.
They signed Virgil Green to a three-year, $8.6 million deal to serve as the blocking tight end.
The Nevada product also brings speed to the passing game and should get more looks offensively, but the most catches Green has had in a single season is 22 receptions in 2016.
That lack of experienced depth should give a team expected to compete for an AFC West division title little comfort in May.
Having a reliable target such as Gates could make quarterback Philip Rivers rest a little easier when considering the tough task that faces his team come September.
Rivers believes Gates can still play.
"I've been not only locker mates but spent a lot of time with Antonio over the last 14 seasons," Rivers said earlier this year. "Great player, great person. We all know our friendship. You'd love for him to get one more shot to be with us and go make a run at it. Like we've said every year, this is going to be the year. But who knows?"
Well, the Chargers know that with the loss of Henry they have a person who can help them just a phone call away in Gates.