Tate embracing challenge at WR

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Wide receiver Brandon Tate is in his second NFL season, but he still feels like a rookie.

“To me, I think I am, because I haven’t done anything," Tate said after Friday morning's practice, only the third training camp session in which he's participated. "I’m looking at this as my first year, my rookie year.”

Recovering from a knee injury suffered in his senior season at North Carolina, Tate missed last year's training camp and did not take the field for the Patriots until their October matchup with the Buccaneers last season. After starting the next game against the Dolphins, Tate suffered another knee injury and missed the remainder of the season.

He is healthy again and ready to contribute to the Patriots offense in practice, where at times he has been lining up across from Randy Moss, a sign of how much promise the coaching staff sees in him.

“I feel like I’ve come a long way,” Tate said. “Every day, every night, at lunch, I’m in the playbook. I’m just trying to get better.”

Fortunately for Tate, he is joined in the meeting room by an accomplished group of NFL veterans, including Randy Moss and Torry Holt. He has benefitted from their experience.

“If they see something on film that they think I could have done better, they’ll tell me,” he said.

When asked if there was any veteran in particular who has taken Tate under his wing, he said, “We’re like a family. You can go to any of the veteran guys about anything.”

In his Friday morning press conference, head coach Bill Belichick pointed out the differences he has seen in Tate since last season.

“I think Brandon would be the first to tell you that his preparation for this season is way, way ahead of where it was last year,” Belichick said. “He still has to go out there and do it. … But where he is starting now and where he started even when he came back to the team in October, it’s a big gap.”