San Diego Still Without Gates

Despite signing their star tight end to a six-year contract, the San Diego Chargers will be without Antonio Gates for Friday night's game in Minnesota and two more games after that.

Some wonder just why the Chargers painted themselves into a corner with All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates.

The Chargers accelerated the process of the negotiations by threatening Gates that if he didn't report by last Saturday afternoon, the team would place him on the roster exempt list when he did sign. That meant he would miss the season opener against the Cowboys and the final two exhibition games.

So now that Gates signed a six-year deal believed to be worth about $4 million per year, San Diego will be without their star receiver for the next two preseason games – including Friday night at Minnesota –and the regular-season opener.

Chargers general manager A. J. Smith said the team needed to start focusing on the Cowboys game and wanted to know which tight ends would be available.

Gates won't be one of them now, thanks to Smith's hard-line stance.

Smith's strategy didn't go over well — privately — with some of the Chargers assistants. Like Chargers fans, they wonder why Smith didn't give himself some flexibility?

Instead, Smith drew a line in the San Diego sand and gave Gates an ultimatum. And sometimes with ultimatums one has to live with the consequences. For the Chargers, that means not having a key component of their offense against the Cowboys.

But Smith kept his hard-nosed persona rather than bend his rules for Gates. You can't fault someone for sticking to his guns, but some wonder why Smith shot from the hip when making a move which will sideline Gates.

There were some rumblings that Gates could appeal the suspension through the players' association. Smith said he was unaware of that option, but if it turned out Gates would be available through that recourse, he would embrace it.

But an NFL official said he didn't know of any way Gates could avoid the suspension. CHARGERS NOTES

Two of the Chargers' top three draft picks didn't play against the Rams. DE Luis Castillo, the team's second first-rounder, and wide receiver Vincent Jackson, a third-round selection, were sidelined for the exhibition home opener. Castillo is nursing a sore ankle, while Jackson is out of action because of a sore Achilles' tendon.

"I've never missed a game in my life," Castillo said. "People say these preseason games don't matter, but to rookies it's like the Super Bowl. To not be able to go is killing me."

Added Jackson: "I want to play but they are more concerned with me getting this done with and getting to 100 percent instead of just driving through it. I want to get out there so bad."

  • Rams secondary coach Kurt Schottenheimer was talking about how determined his brother, Marty, remains to reach his first Super Bowl.

    "He has the motivation to get there," Kurt stressed. "He keeps grinding along. Every (playoff) loss hurts, but he's got that fire that he won't give it up. I certainly can tell you it's as strong as it ever has been and that organization has put together a fine team this year."

    "ESPN Hollywood" is interested in booking LS David Binn as a guest. Binn and actress Pamela Anderson have a relationship. Anderson attended a Chargers practice earlier this summer.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: I told him when he came off that I've got some good news and some bad news. The good news is that was a terrific run. The bad news is you're done." — Coach Marty Schottenheimer, on what he told LaDainian Tomlinson after his 55-yard touchdown run against the Rams.

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