When will they know if their leading receiver will be able to go against the Washington Redskins?
"We will see where he is tomorrow," head coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "If he can be effective, we will look at it there. It will likely come down to gametime."
If he is unable to go, all eyes turn to backup Justin Peelle.
"I've got my own game," said Peelle, who has 16 NFL starts. "I didn't get here on my good looks. I don't even know how I got married."
Peelle was a fourth-round draft pick in 2002, and hasn't disappointed the Chargers with his reliability and well-rounded game. While Gates gets most of the passes and glory, Peelle did have 10 catches for 84 yards and two touchdowns last season.
This year, Peelle has collected nine catches for 27 yards and a touchdown pass from LaDainian Tomlinson.
Instead of the stat sheet, Peelle's contributions often reveal themselves through his run blocking on the game films. He's not afraid to clear the way for others.
If Gates is out Sunday -- or longer -- Peelle's appeal is that he's a smart, heady player who isn't prone to mental mistakes. He's also not prone to drawing double coverage, as Gates does, but few tight ends in the NFL demand that much respect.
"The coaches know what I'm capable of doing," Peelle said. "We're still going to run our offense.
"We've got some good tight ends here, but we need Antonio," Peelle said. "I'm having fun right now, but in the grand scheme of things we're a lot better football team with him here. I can't do some of the things Antonio can do."