Gates, their All-Pro tight end, took part in a portion of practice for the first time this week on Thursday. Gates sprained his right foot on Sunday in the win over the Buffalo Bills.
"I tested it out and basically I'm going to wait until (Friday) and see how it feels," said Gates, the team's top receiver with 56 catches for 784 yards and seven touchdowns. "We'll just decide from there to see if it's sore or I have any pain.
"Still, it feels better, obviously, than it did (Wednesday). So that is a good sign."
Coach Marty Schottenheimer also gave Gates' performance two thumbs up.
"He did some work out here today," Schottenheimer said. "(His availability) is going right down to game time. We are cautiously optimistic. He ran and he cut. It was positive."
Gates is no longer wearing the walking boot his ailing foot has been encased in since he was hurt in the third quarter of Sunday's game. His limp was also gone.
"I'm going to constantly prepare to play this weekend and take care of the foot," Gates said.
If Gates can't go, he would be replaced for Justin Peelle, a fourth-year pro. Peelle, who's forte is blocking and not catching Drew Brees passes, filled in for Gates in the season opener, when he was serving a suspension.