Gates hoping to return for playoffs

The San Diego Chargers have scored 65 points in the past two games without the services of star tight end Antonio Gates.

According to Gates, the Chargers will likely have to continue their playoff push without him. Gates told the San Diego Union Tribune after the Chargers’ 34-7 win against the 49ers that the goal is for him to return for the playoffs, if the Chargers make it. Gates has missed four of the past six games (including the past two) with a serious foot injury.

Gates is reportedly pessimistic about his chances to return Dec. 26 at Cincinnati. San Diego finishes the season Jan. 2 in Denver. San Diego is 8-6 and trails first-place Kansas City by a half game. If the Chargers win their two final games, Kansas City will have to win its final three games to win the division.

The Chargers have been starting Randy McMichael in Gates’ place. Gates has been the favorite weapon of San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers.

Still, the Chargers have been able to deal with the absence of Gates. A big reason why is the arrival of Pro Bowl receiver Vincent Jackson, who had three touchdown catches against San Francisco on Sunday. It appears the Chargers will need more big performances by Jackson as they will likely have to march toward the playoffs without Gates.