Senior Bowl: Chargers Shop for Tight End

The Chargers were unable to score in the red zone against the Patriots, largely because of the absence of Antonio Gates. Later on Sunday, Chargers officials met with a pass-catching tight end at the Senior Bowl. Michael Lombardo reports from Mobile, Ala., that the Chargers are doing more than window shopping for Gates' backup.

The Chargers lost their ability to attack the middle of the field when Antonio Gates was rendered ineffective with a toe injury. Brandon Manumaleuna is more blocker than receiver, and Scott Chandler was unable to avoid the inactive list.

Chargers scouts traveled all the way to Alabama to discover a pass-catching tight end from their own neck of the woods. Team scouts met with Fred Davis, the winner of the 2007 Mackey Award, which is given to the nation's top tight end. Last season, he caught 62 passes for 881 yards and eight touchdowns.

The Chargers liked what they saw out of the USC standout. He would have to slide to the third round for the Chargers to give him serious consideration -- the Chargers expect to receive a third-round pick as compensation for losing Donnie Edwards. "I'm a competitive, tough player" Davis said. "Athletically, I can stretch the field and catch the deep ball against linebackers and safeties. I can make big plays in the middle." The Chargers were also busy looking at the offensive line, especially after seeing Philip Rivers struggle behind shaky protection against the Patriots.

Ohio State's Kirk Barton enjoyed a lengthy one-on-one interview with a Chargers scout. He is projected to go early on the second day of the draft.

The Chargers pulled him from the group and had him fill out a questionnaire provided by San Diego personnel. Barton could push Jeromey Clary for playing time. NT Jamal Williams, who will be 32 when next season begins, missed a lot of time late in the season, which is one reason why San Diego spent time with Texas A&M DT Red Bryant.

Bryant missed his senior year with a knee injury but can wreak havoc on the interior when healthy. Bryant is projected to be a third-round pick. If the Chargers call his number on draft day, it would give the Bolts leverage in their negotiations with DE Igor Olshansky, who is entering the final year of his contract.

Keep checking back for more Senior Bowl coverage, as Michael Lombardo is in Alabama tracking all the Chargers' draft interests.

Amberly Richardson is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a correspondent for She has contributed to the official Web sites of Shawne Merriman, Lorenzo Neal, Shaun Phillips and others for Sixthman Communications.

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