In the four weeks without Antonio Gates taking all of his targets, Green hauled in 14 catches for 174 yards and two touchdowns. Green only played three of those weeks after suffering his 2nd concussion in a month, and dating back to last season he’s had three concussions over the span of eight regular season games. That is certainly alarming and hopefully he will be able to avoid further concussion issues.
Their aren’t many people on earth that are 6’6” 238 lbs and are as athletic has he is, and when he’s healthy he certainly has the look of a perfect long-term replacement for Antonio Gates. Tight end has become a much more prominent position in the passing game around the NFL, but a strong pass catching tight end is nothing new to the Chargers.
Now that Gates is nearing the end of his career, San Diego might already have his long-term replacement in Green. Of course there is no replacing the “backyard ball” Gates and Philip Rivers are able to conjure up, but Green’s touchdown against Cleveland certainly had the look of a QB/TE tandem that have good chemistry with each other. Rivers just threw the ball up for Green to make a play, of course Green having a huge size advantage over the defender didn’t hurt things.
There there are several large tight ends in the NFL though, and not all of them can make catches like that. So with Green showing his capabilities in the passing game, what will the Chargers do with him moving forward this season now that he’s not the first guy on the TE depth chart anymore?
Well, with all the injuries the Chargers have suffered , if Green himself can stay healthy, I’m sure the Chargers can find a use for him. On Sunday Malcom Floyd suffered a concussion and Steven Johnson injured his hamstring, while Jacoby Jones remains limited.
On top of the wide receiver issues are the o-line injuries. King Dunlap, Chris Watt and Orlando Franklin all missed Sunday and could be out again next Monday against the Steelers. If Gates is poised to retake his role in the passing game, perhaps Green could be useful as another big body on the line of scrimmage to help repel the onslaught that will be heading towards Philip Rivers? Or maybe an aerial attack of Gates on one side and Green on the other is the better way to go? I mean, they are both coverage nightmares and with the current lack of healthy wide receivers, the Chargers might not have many options when they play the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday.
Speaking of the Steelers, remember those three touchdowns Gronk scored against them in week one? Obviously it’s unfair to compare anyone to Gronk right now, but the Steelers have shown vulnerability to top end TE’s in the red zone.
After a successful stint as the top TE in San Diego, Ladarius Green has shown he can replace Antonio Gates in the long-term. With the Steelers coming to town and injury problems facing the Chargers, Green could find himself once again being a big part of the Chargers passing game in the short-term as well.