Is Ben Tate the next Michael Turner?

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans

In the 2008 offseason the Atlanta Falcons looked to revamp their backfield with the departure of veteran Warrick Dunn. One day after the release of Dunn, Michael Turner the back up Running Back to the legendary LaDainian Tomlinson was signed by the Falcons. He was signed even though only having 228 total carries over four seasons with the San Diego Chargers. The main reason for Turner’s signing was because he showed a ton of potential.

Drafting Ben Tate out of Auburn in 2010 the Texans thought they were getting their Running Back of the future. Unfortunately for Tate, he broke his ankle in the pre-season opener and undrafted Arian Foster went on to be the leading rusher in the league that season. Ever since then he has been designated to being Foster’s back up. The next season Tate was given a chance to finally display his talents while splitting carries with Foster. He did not disappoint rushing for just under 1,000 yards on 175 carries while averaging 5.4 yards per carry which was top 10 in the league that year (2011). The next year was not so successful for Tate. He was plagued by injuries and simply not as productive as he was in his initial campaign with averages of 65 carries, 279 yards, and 4.3 yards per carry.

This season, Tate looks to capitalize on his good health and Foster’s not so good health. With Arian Foster currently on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list, this means Tate will be seeing a ton of first team reps during training camp. Additionally, the Texans want to limit Foster’s workload which means Tate will see significantly more carries. Gary Kubiak has been noted saying that Tate has looked “really good” this offseason. He is also in a contract year meaning he will be a free agent this 2014.

Like the Falcons signing of Turner in ’08, it seems that a team would be wise to sign Tate this upcoming offseason. Some viable options are the Arizona Cardinals  and division rival Indianapolis Colts. The former signed sluggish Rashard Mendenhall this offseason. I’m projecting he will be a bust and the Cardinals will not resign him next season. It would be smart of them to pick up Tate along with a stud QB in the draft just as the Falcons did in ’08. As for the Colts, they also signed RB Ahmad Bradshaw to a one year deal. Bradshaw is a solid back but I don’t think he’s going to be vital enough for the Colts to extend his contract. It would be wise for them to dip into the free agency pool once again and pick up Tate, a back who could complement franchise QB Andrew Luck well.


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