Chargers GM Tom Telesco says Antonio Gates' return remains possibility

Antonio Gates has 10 catches for 127 yards and a touchdown during the final two games of the 2017 season. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun

COSTA MESA, Calif. -- In just a week, the Los Angeles Chargers will hit the practice field to open training camp at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex.

Players are winding down vacations, getting in final workouts and making plans to return to Orange County. Rookies and veterans will check in on Friday, where they will go through physicals and conditioning testing.

Players who missed all or parts of offseason workouts due to injury and could begin training camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list include guard Forrest Lamp (knee), defensive tackle Corey Liuget (foot), cornerback Jason Verrett (knee), linebacker Kyle Emanuel (undisclosed) and cornerback Casey Hayward (hip).

But for the most part, the Chargers are expected to have a healthy roster at the start of camp.

"This team right now is in outstanding shape," Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said last month on the final day of minicamp. "Our strength and conditioning staff has done a nice job with that, John Lott and Jonathan Brooks. We want to make sure we maintain that and sustain it."

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

@eric_d_williams: Asked once again about bringing back Antonio Gates while appearing on the Petros and Money show on AM 570 LA Sports radio this Thursday, Chargers GM Tom Telesco said he remains open to that possibility.

The Chargers, of course, lost starting tight end Hunter Henry for the year when he suffered a right ACL knee injury on the first day of organized team activities in May. Free agent addition Virgil Green is the only tight end currently on the roster with a catch in the NFL.

Telesco and the Chargers told Gates' representation at the NFL combine in February that they would not be seeking his return to the roster in free agency, but things changed once Henry suffered a season-ending injury.

"There's no update right now," Telesco said. "We'll see where things go next week. We've got a couple, different possibilities. We had talked about one obviously with Antonio Gates, and we'll see where that goes. We've got some time here next week, so we'll see what happens.

"Losing Hunter was a blow at the time, it is now but you have to overcome it. That's what you have to do."

Although he turned 38 years old in June, Gates can be an effective player for the Chargers if used in a limited capacity.

Henry suffered a lacerated kidney at the end of last season, forcing him to miss the final two games of the year. During his absence Gates finished with 10 catches for 127 receiving yards and a touchdown as the Bolts' starting tight end.

Gates served as a captain on offense and remains a popular player and mentor for younger players like Keenan Allen, Melvin Gordon and Henry. Players I spoke to this offseason, including Philip Rivers, are lobbying for the veteran tight end's return because they know how close the Bolts are to making a deep playoff run.

"I would always be excited if he walked back in the door, obviously," Rivers said about Gates back in May. "But that's something that Tom [Chargers GM Tom Telecsco], John [President of football operations John Spanos] and Coach [Anthony Lynn] -- all of those guys I'm sure would discuss and see about bringing anybody in for that matter. But certainly he would get my vote."

For answers to more mailbag questions, click here.