Steelers fans, it’s official. On Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Steelers announced that they had signed veteran running back Ben Tate to the 53-man active roster. There is no concern within the organization, however, that Le’Veon Bell will not recover from the hyperextension injury to his knee. In a proactive move, the Steelers opted to bring in help in the form of Tate to balance the offense and aid Josh Harris and Dri Archer should Bell not be available against the Baltimore Ravens in the wild card game of the 2014 NFL playoffs this weekend.
Tate was most recently with the Minnesota Vikings, but was waived on December 23. He spent 11 games between Minnesota and the Cleveland Browns during the 2014 season and recorded 371 rushing yards for four touchdowns. A second-round (58th overall) draft selection by the Houston Texans out of Auburn, Tate opened up his NFL debut in 2010 by rushing for 116 yards and a touchdown. On his career, Tate has carried the ball 540 times for 2,363 yards and 14 touchdowns, adding 67 catches for 347 yards.
Tate’s time with his three previous teams was one of running back by committee and nagging injuries that kept him from being a top back. In his Tuesday press conference, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin affirmed his confidence that Tate will give the Steelers offense a lift should it be needed. “I try to get as singularly focused as I can to the variables that matter and that are within my control,” Tomlin said. “(Bell’s) overall health and where he is (in this rehabilitation) isn’t within my control. Our plan, particularly if we don’t have him [against Baltimore], is within my control, and so I spend a lot of time talking about that..” Tomlin added that Tate would not have been signed if the team was not confident that he deserved to be there.
“We’re looking at our options,” Tomlin said, “and Josh Harris is at the top of our list, but we’re not opposed to going outside the box with how we might prepare a winning formula for this football game…we pride ourselves in giving every man an opportunity, and during (Harris’) time here he has proven he belongs. Not only in terms of talent but what he’s willing to do, and his willingness to work has earned him the respect of the guys.”
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