New Browns running back Ben Tate showed a good deal of potential in his four seasons with Houston, gaining 4.7 yards per carry while primarily spelling starter Arian Foster.
Now, Tate has his own starting job. For the 25-year-old Tate, it’s an opportunity to show what he can do with more reps. It is also his chance to prove he can deal with rigors of being a full-time starter after dealing with some injuries in his first four NFL seasons.
Speaking at the NFL meetings in Orlando on Tuesday, Browns coach Mike Pettine indicated Tate’s injury history — which includes broken ribs suffered last season and a broken ankle that kept him out for all of 2010 — was not a worry.
“I don’t have any issues with his durability,” Pettine said, according to an interview transcript from the Pro Football Writers of America. “He had a couple of things. Here’s a guy that had four broken ribs and played through it. It wasn’t until he had the fifth one broken that he couldn’t go anymore. He broke an ankle.
“To me, that more of a freak thing than anything else, but it’s not like there are just chronic injuries there and anytime you bring in a guy that’s got a chip on his shoulder, that’s going to be in your favor. When there’s a little bit of extra motivation to play and I think we’ve done that with a lot of the guys that we’ve added.”
A little injury luck for Tate could go a long way. He’s playing on just a two-year deal, giving him a chance to again test free agency early in 2016, when he will still be a couple years shy of 30.