Tate Putting His Past Behind Him

WR Brandon Tate

The Patriots are willing to add players with so-called "character issues" to their roster if there's a good reason for those claims to be misconstrued. Corey Dillon and Randy Moss proved the naysayers wrong, what about the Patriots' latest player with question marks, Brandon Tate?

The Patriots have had lousy luck drafting wide receivers in the past -- most notably Chad Jackson -- but they still took a chance on Brandon Tate from North Carolina.

The name might sound familiar since Tate failed a drug test at the Scouting Combine and subsequently dropped to the third round, where the Patriots selected him with the 83rd overall pick.

While head coach Bill Belichick won't comment specifically on Tate's checkered past, he says he expects Tate to be ready to go once camp begins despite a knee injury that caused his stock to drop long before the drug issues.

"I would say in the big picture, every player has things, positives and negatives in their entire profile, whatever that happens to be," Belichick said. "In the end, you just have to evaluate that player, your team and your situation and what kind of value you put on that and what kind of fit you think it will be.

"I'm glad we have Brandon. He brings a lot to our football team and he'll hopefully work hard to do the things he needs to do to be a productive player for the Patriots. That's what my expectations are. We're comfortable taking him at the point (and) in the situation that we took him in and I think he has a good future here."

Likewise, Tate is ready to begin his new life in the NFL and put whatever happened in college in the rear-view mirror.

"I know I had made a mistake, and now that's behind me," Tate said. "I'm just moving forward, getting ready to go to the NFL and play for the Patriots."

Tate will have a chance to compete for playing time if all goes well. The Patriots are top-heavy at wide receiver, but beyond Randy Moss and Wes Welker, the rest of the spots are up for grabs.

"I'm (excited) to come here," Tate said. "I know one of them is going to take me under their wing, and whatever they tell me, it's got to be the right thing because they're (each) one of the best. I'm glad I'm on a team like this, and I just want to learn to get better.

"I was already really familiar with the Patriots -- the caliber of their team; they're a championship team. Like I said, Bill Belichick, he gave me a chance, so I'm going to come in and work extra hard for him."

Notes:

--The decision to trade CB Ellis Hobbs wasn't easy, but the Patriots know they have a group of up-and-comers at cornerback and felt the number of moving parts would've created a serious logjam in camp.

"I think there are a lot of forces at work there," Belichick said. "I would just say that it's a combination of a lot of things that we felt like, from a timing standpoint and moving forward, 'What's the best thing for our football team?' That was just the right move at this time.

"Philadelphia was a partner on that and it just felt like when we talked to them that that was the best thing for our football team. It wasn't any one thing. It wasn't any one force, but it was just kind of a combination of all of those things coming together."

--The Patriots took another gamble by drafting Tyrone McKenzie, who has transferred to a number of schools during his college career. However, McKenzie's issues never raised a red flag with coach Bill Belichick, who believed he displayed maturity during the team's evaluation at the Scouting Combine.

"I would just say of all the players that I've talked to and we've interviewed this year and even through the years, that Tyrone is amongst the most impressive," Belichick said. "Maturity, intelligence, what he's done with the opportunities that he's had or that he's had to overcome, how he's approached them, how he's dealt with them, how he's made the most of them, it hasn't been easy, yet he's continued to excel, jump over hurdles and overcome obstacles that I think would have derailed a lot of other people and/or football players. I think he's a very impressive, mature, humble young man."

-- McKenzie also visited Foxboro during the draft process, which allowed the Patriots to get a feel for his personality and what he could bring to the team.

"When I was up there, me and coach Belichick had sat down and talked," McKenzie said. "I also sat down and talked to the linebackers coach and talking to everybody in the office. I had a great time up there and Boston is a great city.

"I love how Foxboro is just a little bit outside the city so you know that fans can come out there whatever time it is, they can come out there and get ready for the Patriots."

--The talk from his former teammates suggests rookie offensive lineman Rich Ohrnberger has the kind of light-hearted personality that can loosen the tension in the locker room.

Ohrnberger, however, isn't your typical prankster. There's a method to his madness and his plan often revolves around calming down teammates to help the game go much smoother on the field.

"I couldn't remember or cite specific examples, but I always like to keep things a little lighter than maybe the situation permitted at the time, because I feel like my teammates and I would play a little bit better when there was a higher level of relaxation, as opposed to getting tense and

worked up," he said. "It was just something I did to break the tension and it worked. It worked for us. We had a lot of good years together, my offense and I, so it was a lot of fun. Other guys chipped in too, it wasn't just me, but I seem to get pegged as a comedian."

They Said It: "I broke my leg in my junior year of high school so most of my recruitment for college came my senior year. I fought my way back from my leg injury from my junior year and I had a tremendous year my senior year. Breaking my leg really taught me how to work hard and how to put everything into a bucket and work for it and you can accomplish your goals." -- Rookie Tyrone McKenzie on how setbacks in his life have made him a better player.


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