Friday, October 15, 2010
Expect to see more of Pats WR Tate
By Mike Reiss ESPNBoston.com
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Through the first four games of the New England Patriots' season, wide receiver Brandon Tate has played 55 percent of the offensive snaps. That is the third-highest total among Patriots receivers behind Randy Moss and Wes Welker.
"I told coach when I got here, I just want to be on the field -- special teams, offense, passing out water, whatever," prolific receiver Brandon Tate said.
With Moss traded to the Vikings, and veteran Deion Branch still acclimating to the Patriots' offense in his return to the team, Tate's playing time figures to increase in Sunday's game against the Ravens.
Tate is ready for whatever comes his way.
"The only thing I'm going to do is keep doing my job," he said. "Whatever the coaches ask me to do, just go out and do it 100 percent."
To this point, coaches have utilized Tate as a regular part of three- and four-receiver packages. He has rotated with Welker in two-receiver packages.
If Tate's role does increase, it would be a result of being a full-time option in two-receiver packages and taking over for Moss in the team's single-receiver set.
"I've been ready for any opportunity," he said. "I told coach when I got here, I just want to be on the field -- special teams, offense, passing out water, whatever."
Tate is third on the team in receptions, with 11, and he's been reliable when quarterback Tom Brady has thrown in his direction. He has been targeted 14 times, giving him a solid 78.5 target percentage.
Tate's speed and explosiveness have been seen more on kickoff returns, as he has 97-yard and 103-yard returns for touchdowns this season. His presence as a returner has Ravens coach John Harbaugh concerned.
"He's very smooth, and he's a quick accelerator. It's something that we'll have to really deal with," said Harbaugh, who hopes that kicker Billy Cundiff -- who is tied for the NFL lead with 11 touchbacks -- might negate some of Tate's explosiveness.
As for Tate's development as a receiver, Harbaugh also sees promise.
"I thought he was one of the premier receivers coming out [of the draft]," he said. "He's a young developmental receiver, and I don't see any reason why he won't be a very good one."
Mike Rodak contributed to this report.