TE Gates approaching another milestone

SAN DIEGO – The records keep piling up for San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates.

Heading into Sunday’s contest against Miami, Gates needs just 67 receiving yards to reach 9,000 career receiving yards. If Gates achieves that mark, he’ll do it in fewer games than any tight end in NFL history.

Gates will play in his 157th career game on Sunday. Jason Witten of the Cowboys (160 games) and Atlanta’s Tony Gonzalez (163) have reached the milestone the fastest.

With 694 catches, Gates is six shy of 700 receptions for his career, the fourth-most in NFL history among tight ends behind Gonzalez (1,289), Witten (853) and Shannon Sharpe (815).

While honored to be within reach of 9,000 career receptions, Gates said his focus remains on helping his team win games.

“I always felt like the things you do while you’re playing, you don’t get a chance to appreciate it and enjoy it at that particular time until you’re done playing,” Gates said. “And when you look back, you say ‘Wow, these are the things that I accomplished.’

“My teammates have so much confidence in me, and this organization has believed in me for over a decade now. I’m just happy to be a part of it, and I’m happy that I was able to contribute.”

Gates and the rest of San Diego’s receivers face a tough matchup in Miami’s secondary. The Dolphins are tied for fifth in the league in interceptions with 12, led by cornerback Dimitri Patterson’s four picks.

The Dolphins have allowed just 10 passing touchdowns, tied for fifth-best in the NFL.

“It’s a very talented, fast defensive group,” Gates said. “And in this league it’s always been tough to win on the road, so this situation won’t change.

“The only way that you go on the road and get wins is that you match their intensity, you handle the crowd noise, try to convert on third downs and score points when you get the opportunity to.”