Ben Tate has been vocal in past interviews saying his track with the Texans record speaks for itself -- nearly 2,000 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in three seasons coming off Houston's bench. Now more of a veteran, the 25-year-old is embracing becoming a leader in the locker room. He will gladly accept the emergence of Terrance West, or a dark horse running back candidate to help make the Browns' offense as potent as possible.
"I will welcome help because I don't want to run myself into the ground," said Tate. "Of course, you want to be a guy who gets in a rhythm. But I will welcome help."
The Browns' quarterback competition has stolen all the headlines the last two weeks. We won't lie: it's been fascinating. But again, we'll drill on this website, Cleveland is going to be a team that wins by pounding the football on the ground.
"We're coming along well," Tate said of his fellow running backs. "Guys are starting to understand the system a little more. So I'm excited to see what some of our [guys] can do on Saturday."
Tate explained that during the scrimmage in Akron and during practice, the Browns' offensive line isn't sealing lanes like they would in real games. The last thing the team needs is Joe Thomas going down for the season by blocking down a Browns defender on the backside. So any perceived struggles from this unit are just that: perception. Wait until the Lions game to judge the Browns' rushing attack.
Now that Tate is a proven player, the preseason is different to him. He doesn't want to see any errors when the team reviews the film. His vision on running holes and pass protection will be his focus.
"The first preseason game, to me, you just want to be a little sharp when you get out there," said Tate. "Not make any mistakes. I want to be sharp on however much I play. Maybe even make a play or two."
Thursday's practice observations
- Obviously, the big news of the day was King James' arrival in Berea. That full story here.
- Mike Pettine announced, that barring unforeseen circumstances, quarterback Brian Hoyer will receive all the first-team reps on Saturday against the Lions.
- Justin Gilbert was held out of practice. According to Pettine, the rookie cornerback was "nicked up." The team will be releasing a full injury report soon.
- Really like this strategy from Pettine regarding preseason playing time: the coaching staff has been vague with players on how much they'll see the field. The Browns' head coach doesn't want his players to overthink snap counts. He just wants them to play football.
- "We've had a good buildup to it, and I think we are all looking forward to going against someone else," said Pettine.
- Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor confirmed Travis Benjamin will be the starting kick and punt returner. He's not worried about Benjamin's knee either and pointed out that the return man was injured last season on a non-contact play where his foot got stuck in the turf. The Browns will train other guys in case of injury.
- Tabor had some very interesting commentary on moving back the extra point to the 15-yard line during the first two weeks of the preseason.
- "I think it's an experiment right now. The other day we came out here and it was a windy day, and we we're down there essentially on Field 4 where the wind was picking up pretty good right in your face. That was not a chip shot, and that's why I think teams like us, Chicago that are in cold weather – for us to voice our opinions strongly about it, I think it's important. I think in the preseason you're going to see everyone, most likely – I've said it before: kickers are talented – they're going to make these kicks here in the preseason. It's going to be in October, November and December – there's not going to be anything that's going to give you information on those kicks."
- The Browns ended practice with one of the most hilarious moments of the summer. Because the linemen of the team are always talking the most smack about the orange jersey competition, the Browns head coach wanted to raise the stakes. The offensive line would face off against the defensive line in a field goal kicking competition.
- Joe Thomas and Garrett Gilkey prevailed for offense while Phil Taylor and Desmond Bryant…well let's just say they won't be challenging Billy Cundiff anytime soon.
- "I think one of the best things Coach Pettine has done is bring competition in every single day to training camp whether it be red zone, goal line, first down, whatever we're doing, linemen kicking," said Joe Thomas. "I think it kind of builds a competitive desire that burns inside of the team when we do that kind of stuff. It's always fun to do things that are a little goofy when you make linemen kick extra points and stuff. It kind of helps the players get through the mental drain of training camp and the grind of coming out every day in pads and sweating it out and banging against the same guys with no end in sight."