Player Name: WR Brandon Tate
Past Role: Injured reserve. Tate was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2009 Draft with a known knee injury. He spent his whole off-season recovering, as well as the first half of the season. He returned for 3 weeks (aka: Two games and a bye) before injuring his knee (again) and being placed back on the IR for the rest of the season.
Tate showed promise as a kick returner, returning 4 kick offs for 106 total yards. In his game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, QB Tom Brady threw one pass in Tate's direction, but resulted in an interception. Despite putting up receiving numbers, the coaching staff believed that his play against the Bucs warranted a start after the bye- and Tate started against the Miami Dolphins. This throw was incomplete- and Tate was injured soon after, ending his season.
Predicted Role: Tom Brady has said that Tate is having a great off-season- but whether that's true or Brady is building up his teammate's confidence (or possibly both) will be seen once the team starts having contact in the practices. Tate should emerge as the team's leading kick returner- causing the release of Matthew Slater. Tate should also shine as part of the #3 WR rotation with Torry Holt and Taylor Price. All three receivers should be a big part of the offense, with Tate leading the way early in the season.
Predicted Season Numbers: 40 Receptions, 450 Yards, 5 TDs. 30 Kick Returns, 28.0 yards/return, 1 TD.
Predicted Depth Chart: #3 WR (at the beginning of the season), #4 WR (at the end of the season), #1 Kick Returner
Summary: Tate will prove why he was a 3rd round draft pick. He's had plenty of time to recover from his injury and should provide a spark for the offense and the return game. He'll allow the team to release Matthew Slater and, possibly, Terrence Wheatley. Look for Tate to be the new, albeit much larger, Deion Branch for the offense- nothing Earth shattering, but extremely productive.