SAN DIEGO -- The expectation for most folks around the NFL was San Diego Chargers tight end Ladarius Green would take a leap in development and overall performance in his third NFL season.
But that did not happen for a couple of reasons.
The first one is pretty simple -- at 34 years old, Antonio Gates still performs at a Pro Bowl level, limiting the Louisiana-Lafayette product’s opportunities. Gates totaled 69 receptions for 821 yards and 12 touchdowns -- the most TDs since his second season in 2004.
“I know I’m behind Gates and he’s still like a kid running around out there and doing his thing,” Green said. “I’m just waiting to try and do whatever I can, whether it’s special teams or offense.
“I don’t get mad or frustrated at all. I know exactly what’s going on. I’m still learning from him. I’m still happy about that. We’ll just see how it goes.”
Green, 24, had more catches (19) this season than he totaled in 2013 (17). However, Green finished with just four plays of 20-plus yards in 2014; he averaged 22.1 yards a catch last year. Green also failed to find the end zone in 2014, after scoring three touchdowns in 2013.
Nagging injuries also affected Green’s playing time. He missed two games this season due to concussion, ankle and hamstring issues, which limited his role in the offense. Green played just 274 snaps -- 27 percent of San Diego’s offensive snaps. Last year Green played in 350 offensive snaps. Green had three targets and one reception in the red zone this year, compared to four red zone targets in 2013.
“I’ve got a lot to work on, from route-running, to blocking and catching -- everything,” Green said, when asked about his offseason plays. “It could have been a lot better. I was hurt. I’ve got to try and stay healthy. And I’ve got to try and do what I can for the team. I’ve still got a lot to improve on.
“I just know I was not able to do what I could do, so I know I have to improve a lot to try to be on the field, and try and help the team in every phase -- offense and special teams.”
Part of San Diego’s self-scouting in the offseason should be finding a way to get Green more involved in the offense.
“I think having Malcom [Floyd] back took catches away from people and touchdowns,” Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said. “We had four guys with over 50 catches, so the ball was spread out a lot this year and Ladarius is a good player. He is a weapon for us. It just so happens that he didn’t get as many looks this year. But no, I’m not disappointed in him at all.”