War Eagle Extra

From the Plains to the pros: Ben Tate

Editor's note: Auburn has a rich history of sending players to the NFL. With that in mind, beat writer Ryan Black takes a look at each former Tiger that finds himself on an NFL roster (or should be once free agency and training camps shake out). The series will begin with those who have already been in the league for more than one season and conclude with the latest crop of players to land in the NFL, either through the draft or as an undrafted free agent.

Ben Tate, Cleveland Browns

Position: Running back

Drafted: Taken in the second round (No. 58 overall) by the Houston Texans in 2010

Career stats (through four seasons): 40 games played (nine starts); 421 carries for 1,992 yards and 10 touchdowns (4.7 yards per carry); 58 receptions for 287 yards (4.9 yards per reception); 2,279 yards from scrimmage

2014 outlook: The coming season will mark the first time Tate enters a campaign as a team's unquestioned starter. Yes, he was Houston's primary ballcarrier at myriad junctures of his four-year tenure, but that was only when Arian Foster got hurt. Otherwise, Tate had to settle for sharing the workload. He might still do that in Cleveland, but he won't be serving in a backup role. The biggest thing he has to overcome is an injury history to rival any active player.

Per these numbers from ESPN.com:

  • 2011: Eight weeks on the injury report (quadriceps, back, hip, groin, ankle, foot and shoulder)
  • 2012: 15 weeks on the injury report (head, toe, hamstring and foot)
  • 2013: 13 weeks on the injury report (shoulder, elbow, ribs, ankle and toe)

And this came after he missed the entire 2010 season after breaking his ankle in the preseason.

Assuming Tate can avoid the ailments that have plagued him to this point, he'll prove that the two-year contract he agreed to — which will pay him just $3.1 million per season, but could be worth up to $7 million by reaching certain incentives — was a bargain.