Quinten Rollins, Antonio Gates share MAC basketball background

Imagine Chargers tight end Antonio Gates (right) going up for a jump ball against Packers cornerback Quinten Rollins.

On Sunday, when the San Diego Chargers visit the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, Packers cornerback Quinten Rollins may be asked to cover Chargers tight end Antonio Gates for a play. And if the ball comes their way, Rollins and Gates will feel right at home going up to get it.

That’s because both players hail from Mid-American Conference basketball programs. Rollins, a second-round pick in this year’s draft, played four years of basketball at Miami (Ohio) before trying football as a fifth-year senior. Gates played a couple seasons as a power forward at Kent State in the early 2000s.

"I think he might have me in the box-out game because he’s used to being down low in the post, and I’m more on the perimeter," Rollins said of Gates, per ESPN’s Rob Demovsky. "But it would be fun. Two MAC guys. If I do get the chance to line up across from him, it would be fun."

Rollins’ basketball coach at Miami, John Cooper, still thinks his former pupil would have a fighter’s chance to come away with a 50-50 ball against Gates.

"He was a guy that can go up in traffic with the big boys and grab a ball," Cooper said of Rollins, per ESPN. "You saw on tape his instincts — because we do a lot of run and jump, intercept, create turnovers — and we still have tape of him closing on balls."

Both players’ ball skills were on display in Week 5. Gates had nine catches for 92 yards and two touchdowns in San Diego’s loss to the Steelers; Rollins had two interceptions, including one he returned 45 yards for a touchdown, during Green Bay’s defeat of the Rams.

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