Chargers will carve out a role for Antonio Gates vs. Chiefs

COSTA MESA, Calif. -- Lost in all of the fuss about Joey Bosa not playing on Sunday because of a new left foot injury was the news that the Los Angeles Chargers will also get an impact player back for the season opener.

Cornerback Trevor Williams was a full participant in practice this week and will start against the Kansas City Chiefs.

If you remember, Williams suffered a sprained left ankle while defending receiver Mike Williams during the first week of training camp. Like Bosa, Williams did not play in any preseason games.

However, the time off allowed Williams to get healthy, and the Penn State product says that he's ready to start where he left off last season, when he recorded 56 tackles, 13 pass breakups and two interceptions in his first year as a starter in place of an injured Jason Verrett.

"I'm feeling good," Williams said. "It's been a long, three-and-half or four weeks, but I'm glad to get back Sunday."

The Chargers will need Williams to be at his best, facing a lot of speed on the field at the receiver position from the Chiefs in Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and Chris Conley.

Williams also will go against electric quarterback Patrick Mahomes, making just his second career start.

"Watching tape on those guys, they do have a lot of speed," Williams said. "The quarterback has a nice arm, but we've just go to make sure we eliminate the big plays, stick to our fundamentals and our game plan. If we do that, I think we'll be in good shape."

Let's take a look at a question from this week's mailbag:

@eric_d_williams: After watching him practice for a week, Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn was straight forward when asked if veteran tight end Antonio Gates will play on Sunday.

"He looked good -- it's almost like he picked up where he left off," Lynn said. "So we'll see what he can do on Sunday."

Lynn said the plan is for Gates to play against Kansas City, a team he's totaled 115 receptions for 1,431 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns in 16 NFL seasons -- all career highs.

There's a reason the 38-year-old tight end is headed to the Hall of Fame after his playing career is over. Gates is a physical freak who apparently does not need offseason work or training camp.

Gates looked like his old self out on the field running routes this week, surprising Lynn and his new tight end coach Rip Scherer, who met Gates for the first time on Monday.

"I was pleasantly surprised," Scherer said. "He's a pro. The thing I was most impressed with is he's real coachable. I've coached tight ends for three years and he's played it for however many at a high level, and he really accepts coaching, is open-minded and contributes.

"I'm learning probably more from him than he's going to learn from me."

Scherer went on to say that Gates has been an asset for the other tights end on the active roster in Virgil Green and Sean Culkin because of his relationship with Philip Rivers and the offense.

Neither Green or Culkin have caught a pass from Rivers in a regular-season game, while Gates has caught 87 career touchdown passes from Rivers.

That relationship should bear fruit for the Chargers on Sunday, but don't expect the Bolts to overuse Gates against the Chiefs, instead choosing their spots based on where he can have the most impact.

"We'll see how he feels Sunday," Scherer said. "[His usage] is to be determined -- how much, how often, if -- all of those things. That's Anthony's [Lynn] call and Whiz's [Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt] call ultimately. I'm trying to do my best to get him ready."

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