The Kent State product still has not fully recovered from a hamstring injury he suffered against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 2.
Gates missed San Diego losses to the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints because of the issue, but has played the last two contests for the Chargers, totaling six catches for 46 yards and a score in games against the Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos.
The Chargers do not have to file an injury report for this weekend’s game against the Atlanta Falcons until Wednesday.
“It’s very difficult when you’re constantly playing on it,” Gates said. “This is new for me, to be dealing with a hamstring. So I’m learning a lot about it.
“I’m not at 100 percent. But it’s adequate at what I can try and get done, and what we can accomplish as a team from an offensive standpoint. Just being able to be out there, and hopefully they account for me -- that actually helps the play-calling and gives other guys opportunities to make plays.”
Gates said it’s important for San Diego’s offense to play well, with the Chargers facing an Atlanta team with the NFL’s top-ranked offense. The Falcons are No. 1 in points scored (33.2) and total yards per game (441.5), and second in passing offense (330). Quarterback Matt Ryan leads the league in passing yards (2,075), and Julio Jones leads the NFL in receiving yards (656).
San Diego’s offense has to do a better job of managing the game in the fourth quarter. The Chargers have converted third downs just 17 percent of the time in the fourth quarter this season, No. 29 in the NFL. And San Diego also has turned the ball over six times in the fourth quarter, the fourth-most of any team in the NFL. Opponents have scored 21 points off those miscues.
“They’re explosive,” Gates said of the Falcons. “And it makes you very, very cautious about turnovers, especially in a game like this, because if you turn it over on them, giving them a short field isn’t good.
“It’s a team effort, collectively. Obviously, we want the defense to play well. But as an offense, you play a role in that too by maintaining possession and doing the right things, converting on third down and not giving them a short field.”
Chargers head coach Mike McCoy said his team probably will practice in full pads on Wednesday for the offensive and defensive lines to work on run fits and getting into their gaps defensively.
McCoy said there’s no timetable for when offensive lineman Chris Watt will begin practicing with the team. Placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list at the start of the regular season after offseason knee surgery, Watt is eligible to come off of the PUP list starting this week.