MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- All Ladarius Green does is make plays.
The second-year tight end out of Louisiana-Lafayette is an explosive play waiting to happen. And once again that was apparent against the Miami Dolphins, as he finished with four catches for a team-high 81 yards, including a long of 35 yards.
For the season, Green has 11 receptions for 229 yards. And Green’s only been targeted 14 times this season, averaging 20.8 yards per catch.
“I still need to get more comfortable,” Green said. “I still need to get better with my route running. Like I said, I’ve still got a long way to go, and a lot more to learn.”
“We know what he’s capable of,” Rivers said. “And he’s going to continue to have a role for us in the passing game, and in the running game. He was big for us with a couple of big catches.”
At 6-6 and 240 pounds, Green is being groomed as the heir apparent to future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates. He’s blessed with good speed and soft hands. But with as much as San Diego uses three-receiver formations, it’s been hard for offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt to work Green onto the field.
“He gets plenty of reps,” Whisenhunt said this week. “I don't think you worry about that too much. It’s not like Gates is playing bad. You try to put him in there with Antonio so maybe you could do some things with him in packages, but he'll get playing time.”
Add to that the fact that Gates, even at 33 years old, continues to play at a high level. It’s no surprise that Gates is San Diego’s most targeted receiver with 80 targets. He also leads the Chargers in receptions with 56 for 664 yards and three touchdowns.
“I’m a little more comfortable, but I’ve still got a long way to go,” Green said. “Especially, I’ve still got a lot more to learn from the big guy over there (motions to Gates).”
One area the Chargers could use Green more is in the red zone. Green has yet to score a touchdown for San Diego this season, and red zone efficiency remains a thorn in the side of San Diego coach Mike McCoy. The Chargers have a 49 percent efficiency rate in the red zone, No. 24 in the NFL.