Halfback Ben Tate has emerged as the leader in more ways than one as the Browns look to establish the running game as a foundation for their offense.
The fourth-year veteran, who turned 26 on Thursday, has looked polished and decisive since the start of training camp. And while rookie Terrance West will get some carries, the starter's job belongs to Tate as the Browns prepare for their dress-rehearsal game against St. Louis at FirstEnergy Stadium on Saturday night.
Tate spent the last four seasons with the Houston Texans, which employed a similar wide-zone blocking scheme requiring backs to make one cut and turn upfield.
The question with Tate, who's averaged a career 4.7 yards per carry, is his durability. He played in just 40 of 64 regular-season games since the Texans drafted him in 2010.
Tate wants to be a feature back and he'll have his chance in Cleveland. Tate has averaged 4.7 YPC in his career and has touched the ball at least 15 times in 13 career games, averaging 94.5 yards and 0.54 TD in the process. That equates to 12.7 fantasy points, which is about what Chris Johnson averaged as the #9 RB in 2013. Touchdowns are going to be tougher to come by in Cleveland than they were in Houston, and rookie Terrance West is in the mix. Keep in mind that in addition to missing the entire 2010 season due to a broken ankle, he has missed eight other games in his career. Durability is a big concern.