By Dave Thomas
Dante Rosario, TE #88
Hometown: Dayton, OR
Experience: 6 years
When you are replacing a future Hall of Famer like Antonio Gates, albeit for possibly just one game, you had better be ready for the call.
In San Diego’s 38-10 romp over visiting Tennessee this past Sunday, reserve tight end Dante Rosario answered the call and then some.
When his day was over, Rosario had scored three touchdowns on passes from Philip Rivers, helping the Bolts to a 2-0 start. With Denver’s loss Monday evening, the Chargers were left to sit atop the AFC West after two weeks.
Formerly a draft pick of the Carolina Panthers, Rosario’s big afternoon in the late summer sun surely did not go unnoticed.
In comments on Chargers.com, Rosario noted, “You never know what’s possible. I work hard every day to prepare for anything. Gates was a last second decision (rib injury suffered in last Monday’s win over Oakland) for today, so it wasn’t even a sure thing that I would get the number of reps that I did. I just tried to make the most of the opportunity, and I have a bunch of great guys around me that allowed me to do that.”
For the casual Chargers fan, they have may needed to resort to the Gameday program in order to identify just who number 88 was in the white jersey with white pants. Let it be safe to say that most San Diego fans will know who that number belongs to in the next game.
After starting his NFL career in 2007 as a fifth-round draft pick with the Carolina Panthers, Rosario did what many NFL players do over their careers — bounce around. With stops in between at Miami and Denver, Rosario finally found himself in Southern California for this season.
For his career, Rosario, has just over 1,000 yards receiving and eight TDs (five of which came with Carolina).
Not exactly overwhelming numbers by any means, but then again, Charger fans are not looking for the new Antonio Gates — at least not yet. On San Diego’s depth chart at tight end, Rosario is not even the listed backup, passing that honor onto NFL veteran Randy McMichael.
Rosario, who would probably love to still be in college and be part of Oregon’s offensive juggernaut, played in 49 games during his time in Eugene. He tallied 94 catches for 1,003 yards and 11 scores. Rosario not only saw action for the Ducks at tight end, but also lined up at times as a halfback, H-back and fullback.
While the Chargers and their fans knew entering this season that the health of Gates is going to continue to be an issue, especially in the latter part of his career, they have to be pleasantly surprised with how Rosario played in Sunday’s win.
Granted, no one on the Chargers, much less few other tight ends around the NFL, will step and take the place of one Antonio Gates. That being said, Charger management and their fans have to feel a tad better now if they see number 88 hit the field.
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Dave Thomas is a freelance writer covering all things Chargers. His work can be found on Examiner.com.