"Gates is definitely somebody that we'll look to contribute to their offense," defensive end John Abraham said.
"They move him around in certain formations to try and get match-ups," Jets head coach Herman Edwards said. "They do a good job with him. He's a good player. He has a unique ability to position himself."
It is understandable that people are trying to rattle him at the line and throughout a play. The soft spoken player may be reserved off the field but there is no denying his demeanor on it. For a third year player that won't talk about measuring up to Tony Gonzalez, he remains supremely confident.
"They talk about my basketball game," Gates acknowledged. "They are crazy. If Drew was to throw it to somebody else – Sammy Knight told me, ‘he was looking for you but I had you blanketed.' I heard it from Dawkins. I hear it from linebackers. I am used to it. I just think they are trying to psyche themselves up. You are really probably nervous about covering me in space. You want to talk to me about being a basketball player and trying to use that to build some confidence – it aint going to work so it don't matter."
And the results are hard to ignore from the total package.
Despite missing the opening game, Antonio Gates is tied for the lead in touchdown receptions among tight ends (Heath Miller) with six. And he is tied for tied for second overall in the NFL among all receivers, trailing only Steve Smith.
"He'll kill you, he has six touchdowns," cornerback Ty Law said. "You have to play good, solid fundamental defense."
His 43 receptions place him seventh in the league, seven behind Smith who leads the league. He is tops among all tight ends in catches and is 11th in the league in receiving yards with 575.
When Brees needs a first down, he looks to his star tight end. Thirty-three of his catches have resulted in first downs, good for third among all receivers. Eleven of those receptions have come on third down – fifth best in the AFC.
His ten receptions and 145 yards are the top marks in the conference though week eight.
"I am going to let you know that I am going to be here all day," Gates added. "You have to worry about shaking me the rest of this game. I say what I have to say but that aint my M.O."
And the Jets are wary of his existence on the field – similar to how they feel about LT in the backfield.