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Key For 'D': Keep The Gates Closed

San Diego's offense is stacked at the skill positions. However, the X factor is Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, who is a matchup problem for virtually every defense.

The Eagles, who have struggled against tight ends this season, can ill afford to do so Sunday against the 6-foot-4, 260-pound Gates, who averages 14 yards a catch.

"This is a totally different tight end," strong safety Quintin Mikell said. "He plays like a receiver. He will run routes like a receiver. He'll go out and catch the deep balls. He's the best tight end in the game."

Mikell and rookie linebacker Moise Fokou, who will start at strong side linebacker, will likely have the tough assignment of guarding the big-bodied, sure-handed Gates, who looks to control the middle of the field.

"Big, big target," Fokou said. "They like to do a lot of misdirection routes which get him open pretty well. He's physical on routes, he likes to create separation a little bit."

The 6-foot-1, 228-pound Fokou says the key is being physical and disciplined with Gates. Confidence helps, too.

"Definitely, you have to be confident," Fokou said. "Can't nobody beat me. That's the way you have to go into it."

In the team's last trip to the West Coast, Raiders tight end Zach Miller's 86-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown proved to be the decisive points. Miller finished the game with 139 yards on six receptions.

Last week against Dallas, Cowboys tight end Jason Witten was limited to 43 yards on seven catches. However, Witten's 5-yard grab on third-and-3 late in the game sealed the win for Dallas.

Gates has racked up 42 catches on the season for 590 yards, including a pair of touchdowns. His longest grab has gone for 37 yards.

"You want to play the best, and this is the best right now, so we're excited for the challenge," Mikell said. "We have to definitely be on point."

-- Posted by Bob Kent, 7:43 a.m., November 15

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