Record-setting tight end Antonio Gates will practice with the Los Angeles Chargers for the first time in 2018 on Wednesday, coach Anthony Lynn said.
“We will see where he is,” Lynn told reporters following practice Monday at the Hoag Performance Center in Costa Mesa.
The Chargers announced Sunday that the 38-year-old Gates had signed a one-year contract to return to the team he has played with since 2003.
Team officials told Gates in April they would not re-sign him after he was replaced by Hunter Henry as the starter for the second game of the 2017 season and Virgil Green was signed as a free agent. Gates again became part of the Chargers plans after Henry sustained a torn ACL during organized team activities on May 22 that is expected to sideline him for the season.
Lynn said he was uncertain if Gates would play in Sunday’s season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs at StubHub Center.
“I have to see what type of shape he is in and go from there,” Lynn said. “He definitely would be on a (snap) count. I don’t want to put him in the position where he goes out there and hurts himself. That (would) set us back four or five weeks.
“I don’t see us doing that. Antonio, he’s a pro. He will let me know how he feels at the end of the week and about what his pitch count can be. We’ll talk about it.”
The Chargers officially added Gates to their roster Monday, waiving running back Justin Jackson to make room for him.
The Chargers also signed quarterback Cardale Jones and tight end Thomas Duarte to the practice squad Monday.
Jones and linebacker Hayes Pullard were waived Sunday to make room for nose tackle T.Y. McGill and linebacker Emmanuel Ellerbee who were claimed on waivers.
Duarte is a UCLA and Mater Dei High School alumnus who was chosen by the Miami Dolphins in the seventh round of the 2016 NFL Draft. His NFL career consists of one game with Miami in 2016.
Duarte was waived by the Dolphins on Saturday as part of the cut to the league’s 53-player regular-season roster limit.
Gates has caught 114 touchdown passes in his career, the most by a tight end in NFL history and sixth all-time. Gates is the Chargers record-holder with 927 catches for 11,508 receiving yards.
“Happy to be back, can’t wait to get to work, get ready for the season,” Gates said in a video posted on the team’s Twitter account. “Let’s beat Kansas City Week 1.”
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