Ladarius Green swears that nothing has changed since July 2.

That's the day the NFL handed down a four-game suspension to his mentor, Antonio Gates. And that's the day the Chargers penciled Green in as their next man up.

"My approach is the same," Green told ESPN. "I try and work hard every offseason and every training camp."

This is no ordinary camp for the fourth-year tight end, though. Gates is aging, and for a fourth of the season, he's unavailable. Green must know he caught his big break this year.

Just listen to Mike McCoy. As far as coach-speak goes, he's pretty definitive in his backing of Green.

"He's going to have an opportunity early on to do a few more things," McCoy said. "We think very highly of him. We thought that the first year we got here, not just last year or the year before."

He'll will have every chance to show McCoy what he can do. Should he succeed, he could be slotted as Gates' replacement-in-waiting.

Green won't let those thoughts creep in just yet. He's focused solely on the upcoming year -- as well he should be.

"I don't really think about it too much," he said. "There's nothing else on my mind except for football."

(h/t ESPN)