Tate done thinking about contract year at camp

Tate done thinking about contract year at camp
July 29, 2013, 8:30 am
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Ben Tate knows what’s at stake this season. He’s just not trying to think about it.

The former second-round pick out of Auburn is entering the fourth and final year of his rookie contract with the Texans. If he has a year like he did in 2011, he’ll be in line for a big pay day and will likely be a starter somewhere in the NFL. If not, he’ll have missed his chance at an extremely lucrative deal.

“Nah, man,” Tate said when asked on Sunday if he thinks about entering a contract year. “Right now I’m locked in and just focused on football. If I play football and do that well, that’ll take care of itself. So, not at all.”

In the final year of that four-year deal in 2013, Tate will earn a base salary of $575,000. During spring workouts, Tate acknowledged this is a big year for him, a chance to prove himself and earn a nice new contract. But he said he’s not using the looming contract year as motivation. Not anymore at least.

“It was motivation in the offseason to work but now I’m here, it’s time to go,” he said. “I’m thinking about football, football things and football only.”

Tate has played in 26 games since being taken in the 2010 draft. He missed his entire rookie season with a broken ankle. Last season, he missed four games with a hamstring injury and wasn’t very effective when he did play. He ran for 279 yards on 65 attempts in 2012.

But sandwiched in between those two years of injuries was a year that makes plenty of people across the league think Tate is a starter in the NFL. In 2011, he ran for 942 yards on 175 attempts, good for an average of 5.4 yards per carry. He also scored four rushing touchdowns.  

“I have said it all the time,” Arian Foster said. “I have been saying it since I first got here. Ben Tate is a starter in this league. He can go to other teams and start, easily. He is a very, very talented running back.  We have long talks and I always tell him, ‘be patient, you’re time is going to come whether it’s here or somewhere else.’

“He deserves it, he works hard so it’s fun to see him get a little bit of burn when I’m not in there. He knows how this league goes and I know how this league goes, so he is very patient and his opportunity is going to come whether it’s here or somewhere else.”

Tate has been working with the first unit while Foster is recovering from a calf injury he suffered this spring.

Foster ran the ball an NFL-high 351 times last year. Tate will be very instrumental in taking away some of those carries from Foster in 2013. Foster was brought in by the Texans as an undrafted free agent in 2009. He and Tate have been friends since Tate was drafted in 2010.

“It just shows his respect for me,” Tate said. “He’s been around me since I’ve been here. He knows how hard I work and how much I want to be considered one of the top guys. He understands that. I still don’t back down from him every day. We have that friendship, you know, but it’s still very, very competitive.”

Tate has played more than 11 games just once in his three-year career but said he feels completely healthy in training camp and is ready for the 2013 season.

“I’m fine now,” Tate said. “I’m ready to go.”

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