When the Cleveland Browns signed RB Ben Tate to a two-year worth up to $6.1 million deal, it was an ideal contract for the team. They didn't have to make a heavy investment at the running back position, especially toward a guy who had a history of injury issues as a backup in Houston.
Sure enough, Tate was injured in the Browns' regular season opener and missed several weeks of action. In the mean time, rookie running backs Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell shined. Tate wasn't vocally supportive of the young running backs when interviewed by the media throughout the season, which made things a bit awkward. The Browns released Tate in mid-November, and he was claimed off waivers by the Minnesota Vikings. He hardly played for them and was waived again before the end of the regular season. This time, no one claimed Tate. That's where the Pittsburgh Steelers enter the picture.
In the final game of the regular season, Steelers star running back Le'Veon Bell suffered a right knee injury after taking a low hit from Bengals safety Reggie Nelson. Bell's status for this Sunday's playoff game against the Ravens is uncertain, and after parting ways with LeGarrette Blount in mid-November, the Steelers had two inexperienced backs on the roster -- Josh Harris and Dri Archer. The Steelers worked Tate out on Tuesday before signing him, and he could actually see significant playing time in the postseason if Bell isn't able to go.
Tate was abrasive with his new teammates, something that QB Ben Roethlisberger approved of:
"He stood up in our team meeting room and said he's just here to help us win,'' Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. "If that's the attitude, the mindset, we're all for it.''
Tate was asked why he chose to talk to his new teammates that way. "I just wanted the team to know that I'm here to help them,'' Tate said. "That's it. ... I haven't even been here 24 hours, yet. So, I'm just focusing on trying to learn the playbook, and everything else will work itself out.''
Tate played in two games against the Steelers (with Cleveland) this year and totaled 31 carries for 119 yards (3.83 YPC) and 2 touchdowns.