Raiders hope to close the Gates

While much of the talk this week has centered around San Diego running back LaDainian Tomlinson, the Raiders know all too well they must also find an answer for Chargers tight end Antonio Gates if they are to have a chance Sunday.

"He's the best tight end in the league if you ask me," cornerback Stanford Routt said. "They line him up all over the field. Wide, in the slot, wherever. It's a big challenge for us."

Gates, who is 133 receiving yards shy of 4,000 for his career, has been San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers' favorite target through the Chargers' first five games. His 40 receptions were the second-most in the NFL heading into the game against Oakland while his 489 yards were third-best in the league.

But the Raiders aren't implementing anything new to defend the Chargers' big tight end. Oakland strong safety Michael Huff draws the assignment of covering Gates wherever he goes and will get little help from his teammates.

"Whether he's outside or in the backfield, wherever he's at I'll be on him," Huff said. "If he has a good game, their offense is going to play well so I know that my (matchup) on him is going to effect how our defense plays and how well our team does overall."

From a size standpoint, 6-foot-4, 260-pound Gates has a definitive edge over the 6-1, 205-pound Huff. It's an advantage Gates has just about every week, so Huff says he'll have to play a near flawless game to match up.

"He's a lot bigger than I am so I can't really match up on his physical size," Huff said. "I just have to use my technique and use my speed and quickness against him."


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