Print and Go Back ESPN.com: New England Patriots [Print without images]

Sunday, October 25, 2009
Pats' Aiken, Tate step up at receiver

By Mike Reiss

LONDON -- The Patriots lost rookie receiver Julian Edelman to a forearm injury and cut Joey Galloway, so one of the main questions entering their game Sunday against the Buccaneers was who would fill the void as the No. 3 receiver.

The answer, it turns out, was a combination of seven-year veteran Sam Aiken and rookie Brandon Tate.

Aiken was 3a, and Tate was 3b.

Aiken's 54-yard catch-and-run touchdown in the second quarter -- when Buccaneers linebacker Barrett Ruud bounced off him, and then Aiken outraced everyone down the right side -- was a highlight of the game.

"Seems like every time we need for him to step up offensively, he's there and he delivers," coach Bill Belichick said. "Sam's one of our hardest-working guys. It's nice to see him get a chance to handle the ball."

While Aiken played the majority of snaps as the third receiver and finished with two catches for 66 yards, Tate also was in the mix. On his first play since being activated off the non-football injury list, Tate took an end-around 11 yards. Tate did not finish with a catch.

"He did a good job out there," fellow receiver Wes Welker said. "It's tough for a rookie, especially since he's only been out there for a week. So really, it's just coming in and understanding the system. We have a very complicated system. He'll learn as he goes. He's a good player who did a lot of good things in practice this week, and we'll just have to keep bringing him along."