Jason Witten and Antonio Gates are very different players at tight end, but the results are very much the same. Statistically, they're consistently among the best receivers at the position in the league.
The two worked on opposite fields at Valley Ranch during Thursday's joint practice with the Chargers, and didn't have many chances to watch one another work, but both are well aware of what the other is capable of doing.
"Anytime you're always competing against each other year-in and year-out like we've been able to, you're always trying to find ways to get better," Witten said. "I think there's no better place to look than turn on the film and watch 85 ... I think I get coverage rolled (my) way - he gets it too. So the last few years he's been able to put up a lot of numbers, and the consistency to do it year-in and year-out is kind of hard to find at tight end, and he's at the top of that list."
While Gates can't match Witten's yearly reception totals, he's gotten many more opportunities in the red zone during his career. Generally, Witten is considered a better blocker, while Gates is often split out wide as essentially a big receiver.
Right there among the best at their position, the two know each other quite well from Pro Bowls and other events, and both admit they want to out-do the other.
"It's still the competitive edge that you're always going to have," Gates said. "When you look up and you hear about other tight ends in the league, Jason Witten is a guy who comes to mind. Tony Gonzalez is a guy who's been doing it for a while, and now the emergence of a Jermichael Finley and Vernon Davis, I think it builds a bond, not only to compete against one another, but to show the world that this position is now a real well-respected position, and we can be just as influential as a receiver."