Nine tight ends and 203 players were taken before him in the NFL draft.
So now, about to begin his eighth season, former Tulare Union High star Virgil Green is hardly worried about a player who isn’t even with the Chargers at the moment.
“I’ve made it in this league by grinding,” he said. “I’ve gotten it through the gutter. Nothing’s been easy. Just staying on the grind and working hard. That’s how I make it every year.”
Free agent Antonio Gates remains an option for the Chargers, who could re-sign their longtime tight end any time in the next couple weeks and probably have him available for their season opener.
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In the meantime, Green is the starter, and it doesn’t matter to him one bit what’s being reported or rumored.
“I just have to do my job,” he said. “I’ve never focused on what’s said in the media. I don’t care. I really don’t care. I gotta do my job.”
Having spent his first seven seasons with Denver, Green signed with the Chargers in March. His projected role couldn’t help but shift in May when Hunter Henry suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
“When we signed Virgil, we knew that he could be our No. 1 guy,” coach Anthony Lynn said. “He’s a really good combo tight end in the passing game and the run game.”
Known for his blocking, Green has only 71 career catches for 807 yards and four touchdowns. Henry eclipsed each of those numbers in two seasons with the Chargers.
Thanks largely to Gates, this team has made extensive use of its tight end in the passing game for years.
“Any tight end that can block in the National Football League can get a reputation as a blocker just because they can block, but he can also catch,” Lynn said of Green. “You'll see.”
In the Chargers’ second preseason game Saturday against Seattle, Green had the only two tight end receptions. Just one other pass was thrown in the direction of a tight end.
As a seventh-round pick in 2011, Green understands the notion of being discounted. Yet entering this season, only one tight end from that draft – Green Bay’s Lance Kendricks – has appeared in more NFL games.
“Nobody really gave me a chance back then,” Green said. “They said every year, ‘This guy’s getting cut. This guy’s getting cut.’ I don’t pay attention to those things. I never have and won’t start now.”