St. Louis — As the strong side linebacker, the St. Louis Rams' Brandon Chillar will go against two of the best tight ends in the NFL in the next two weeks.
Chillar, a fourth-round draft pick in 2004 starting for the first time this season, will face the Chargers' Antonio Gates Sunday at San Diego. The following week, Gates draws Kansas City's Tony Gonzalez in St. Louis.
The 6-foot-3, 242-pound Chillar said he looked forward to the test. So far this season, he has 19 tackles, three quarterback pressures and one pass defended for the 4-2 Rams.
He also got his first career sack in a 30-28 loss to Seattle on Oct. 15.
The Rams had a bye last week.
"I try to improve my game each week in practice and in the games," Chillar said. "Being a full starter gives me a chance to develop."
His biggest challenge lies ahead.
Gates is a two-time Pro Bowl player who last year led all tight ends in receptions (89), receiving yards (1,100) and touchdown catches (10). This season, Gates has 27 catches for 318 yards and four touchdowns.
How do you handle a player like that?
"You just prepare," Chillar said. "You watch film and see whatever tips you can. He's not afraid to go up and get the ball and make plays."
After that, Gonzalez brings his reputation as one the league's premier tight ends to St. Louis. A seven-time Pro Bowler, Gonzalez has averaged 77 catches, 930 yards and almost seven TDs a season in his career.
"I'll definitely see where I'm at after going against those two guys," Chillar said.