Ben Tate is now a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Ben Tate, however, should remain an insurance policy — and not a whole lot more this week in a wild-card game against the Baltimore Ravens.
You see, Josh Harris is the man who deserves to be The Man if The Man truly isn’t healthy enough to be The Man against Baltimore. Translation: If Le’Veon Bell and his weakened right knee aren’t strong enough to take reps with the first team, it is Harris — all nine carries and 16 yards of NFL experience — who deserves the nod over Tate.
That’s just how it should be; that’s just how it needs to be.
From where I sit, it makes not a lick of difference that Tate was a guy who the Texans traded up to get in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft while Harris is an undrafted free agent signed this season.
It also makes no difference that Tate had a season in which he gained nearly 1,000 yards in 2011 and has played in a total of 48 games in the league while Harris is, perhaps, best known for a play that wasn’t — a 50+ yard run negated by a hold this past weekend.
Tate is a guy with a profound pedigree; Harris is some practice squad fella who pretty much only got a chance when LeGarrette Blount decided to do a Tennessee Two-Step of his own and walk out on the Steelers in Nashville.
This isn’t St. Vincent, this isn’t a full-scale audition — time is of the utmost essence. That said, Harris has been with the Steelers and, seemingly, knows the system while Tate will have to undergo a decently heavy cram session to get a grasp of the basic elements of the offense.
This is a no-brainer here. If Bell can’t go, Tate serves as nothing more than an insurance policy to Harris, who slides to the feature back spot in what will, certainly, become by default the chance of his life.
The signing of Tate would seem to stamp home, pretty vehemently (and no matter what head coach Mike Tomlin or anyone else with the Steelers says to the contrary), that Bell’s knee is busted up to a decent degree and he shouldn’t be expected to contribute much against the Ravens on Saturday night at Heinz Field.
At his media gathering on Tuesday afternoon, Tomlin said of Bell, “I don’t know if he will be available or not. We will do what’s right; we won’t be swayed by circumstance … if he’s healthy, we will play him, if not, we won’t.”
It’s quite obvious by signing Tate that Bell isn’t all that healthy — or at least not healthy enough to be The Man on Saturday night.
It should also be quite obvious that, no matter what flashes he’s shown in the NFL before, Tate shouldn’t get carries over Harris.