A player, coach or issue that should be on your radar as training camp approaches.
The Patriots’ patience with Brandon Tate really might pay off as early as 2010, Tate's second in the league.
After sustaining a significant knee injury at the University of North Carolina, Tate more or less redshirted during his rookie season. While in college, Tate was mostly a returner and didn’t make a name for himself until later in his career, as the Tar Heels had a ton of talent at the position, and then he sustained the knee injury. But when Tate strutted his stuff as a wideout, he was extremely productive and impressive.
Now he might be ready to explode onto the scene, and it would not shock me one bit if he was the opening day starting wide receiver opposite Randy Moss. Tate is someone you need to know.
So what is to like so much about this young wideout? Quite a bit, assuming he is recovered from his injury and has studied up on the position.
Tate isn’t the biggest guy, but he has good height and a frame that could hold more weight and muscle. He has a lot of potential to be a very crisp route runner with excellent stop/start ability and lateral agility. He really can come out of his breaks well and is quick to accelerate, but also shows very good body control and overall balance in his game. He also catches the ball cleanly away from his body and is a pretty reliable hand-catcher.
Tate can make the highlight-reel grab as well. He is an explosive player who also can be very dangerous as a returner. Tate is excellent with the ball in his hands and provides quite a bit after the catch.
If/when Tate does get the chance to start, he obviously will not be the focal point of opposing defenses. But considering his supporting cast -- especially Tom Brady, who I think is poised for a huge year -- it will not be long before defensive coordinators around the league know all about this young man’s abilities.