Ben Tate, happy the Browns are in first place, would be a lot happier if he had more to do with the team’s success.
Tate in March signed a two-year contract with the Browns in free agency to be the featured running back and then beat out rookies Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell to win the starting job. He has since lost it to West, the third-round pick from Towson.
A knee injury in the opener sidelined Tate for the next two games, but he was back as the starter against the Titans on Oct. 5 and rushed for 124 yards on 22 carries. He got 25 carries for 78 yards the following week in the 31-10 demolition of the Steelers.
Tate led the team in rushing against Jacksonville and Oakland, such as it was, but in those games gained 36 yards on 16 carries and 26 yards on 15 carries as the Browns learned to play without Pro Bowl center Alex Mack. Tate started against Tampa Bay but his numbers were abysmal — 3 yards on 10 carries.
West started against Cincinnati and carried 26 times for 94 yards. Tate wasn’t even second; Crowell rushed for 41 yards on 12 tries. Tate gained 34 yards in 10 carries. Each player scored a rushing touchdown.
“I’d be lying if I said (it’s satisfying),” Tate said after practice on Nov. 11. “It’s not, but whatever the organization thinks is best for the team, then that’s what we’re going to do.
“I’m just a player, Man. I’m just a number to them. I couldn’t really tell you why things are happening or what’s going on. The only thing I can do is when it’s time to go to work, go to work.”