Brandon Tate is quietly having a solid preseason, which should come as no surprise because pretty much everything the Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver does is void of noise and hype.
“That’s what I got drafted as, a guy who just goes out and does his job, so why change?” Tate said. “I’m just about chillin’ and workin’.”
Tate leads the Bengals in receptions (five) and yards (84) this preseason, and he has one of the team’s three touchdown receptions, a 21-yarder from Josh Johnson in Atlanta.
“He’s having a great camp,” wide receivers coach James Urban said. “I’m really happy with where he is.”
Tate has been especially effective over the middle, which was the case Saturday night against Tennessee when he caught a 3-yard crossing pass from Andy Dalton on third and 8 and turned it into a 22-yard gain to set up the Bengals’ second touchdown.
“Coming off last season, Brandon and I talked a lot about getting him some work inside as our slot receiver,” Urban said. “We did a whole bunch of work with that in the spring. This fall he’s probably gotten more work outside, but definitely some work inside as well. And it’s been great for him. In college he played a lot inside and was very productive. We gave him a good look in there, and it’s helped him out.”
The extra work in the slot combined with Andrew Hawkins’ ankle injury could create more opportunity for Tate, who has never caught more than four passes in a game and has recorded only one 100-yard game – three catches for 101 yards as a member of the New England Patriots in 2010.
Yet he continues to stick on the roster as the former North Carolina Tar Heel enters his fifth year in the NFL and third with the Bengals.
That’s largely due to the value he adds as a returner, which is another area where has been solid in the preseason, averaging 23.7 yards on kickoffs and 9.0 on punts.
The only area where Tate struggles is when he’s asked to talk about himself, opting instead to redirect the credit elsewhere.
“You need every guy on the field,” Tate said. “Every block, every person is important. You just have to trust your guys and go make plays. (Special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons) is a great coach. He’s taught me a lot about this game. I just try to go out there and do the things he taught me.
“I’m just trying to take care of my opportunities because you know how this game goes, you only get so many.”
Tate started three games last year at receiver, but there was only one game where he was on the field for more than 50 percent of the offensive snaps.
He finished the season with just 13 catches for 211 yards and one touchdown. In four NFL seasons, Tate has 37 catches for 643 yards and four touchdowns.
Quiet production for a quiet man, but Tate’s value is not measured by numbers alone.
“He doesn’t say a lot, but he’s one of those guys you want to be around every day,” wide receiver Mohamed Sanu said. “He’s always trying to help other people get better. He’s just a kind, good-hearted person, and I’m glad he’s a part of this team.”
“He’s a pro,” added Urban. “He’s a wonderful guy, a family guy, a team guy. He’s unbelievable in my meeting room. He’s got some experience. He’s been with Tom Brady, he’s been in a different system, so he’s got a great eye for the game. I joke with him all the time that he’s going to be a coach some day.
“He understands the game and he’s not afraid to talk to the fellas,” he continued. “I’m excited to see how he plays the next couple of games.”
Who: Cincinnati Bengals (2-0) at Dallas Cowboys (1-2)
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: AT&T Stadium, Dallas
TV: Chs. 12, 45
Radio: WCKY-AM (1530), WEBN-FM (102.7), WTUE-FM (104.7)