This is a contract year for Houston Texans running back Ben Tate.
Despite his standing as an extremely talented NFL runner, there’s a lot of doubt surrounding whether or not he’ll be back with the Texans in 2014. The main reason behind this uncertainty: injuries.
When the Texans selected Tate in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft, he was expected to provide immediate support to a ground game that was among the worst in the league at the time. The former Auburn star had all of the physical tools to carry the load at the next level, and Houston was ready to give him the opportunity to thrive.
And then Tate broke his ankle in the preseason opener, effectively bringing his rookie campaign to an early end. Meanwhile, overnight sensation Arian Foster was busy leading the NFL in rushing yards and giving the Texans their first workhorse running back in franchise history.
Now it’s 2013, and Tate still has yet to assert himself as a consistent presence in the Texans running game. After racking up almost 1,000 yards in 2011, Tate was limited to only 279 yards on 65 carries throughout 2012 while battling hamstring and foot injuries. Even with the Texans constantly attempting to spell Foster and get him some rest, Tate hasn’t been able to nail down the complimentary back role.
With one year remaining on his contract, there’s a good chance that Tate won’t be re-signed unless he returns to 2011 form. He needs to prove that he’s capable of staying on the field for Houston to be willing to dish out the money necessary to keep him on the roster.
“It’s been about staying on the field consistently… [Tate] needs to bounce back next year, and we’re looking for consistency from him as a player and helping us on the field,” Texans head coach Gary Kubiak said in his season-ending presser.
There’s a lot riding on the 2013 season for Tate, who can make the Houston ground game among the scariest in NFL history when he’s at 100 percent. Which Tate the Texans get this upcoming season will determine whether or not he’ll be finding a new home in 2014.