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NOTEBOOK: Tate still an integral part of Lions' offense

Golden Tate's production has dropped off significantly compared to his first two seasons in Detroit when he caught a total of 189 footballs.

But head coach Jim Caldwell thinks Tate's time to break out is coming, and still considers him an integral part of the offense.

After four games, Tate has just 14 receptions for 95 yards (6.8 average) and no touchdowns.

"What do I expect his role to be? No different than what it's been. Golden is a starter for us and we anticipate Golden to play well," Caldwell said Monday.

"He's still an integral part of what we do. He is still a guy that I think you can anticipate that you'll see that things are going to turn around for him. He's a very, very capable guy, and he'll do well."

Tate played a season-low 57 percent of the Lions' offensive snaps in Sunday's loss to Chicago, just 36 of a possible 63 plays, and was on the field for just five plays in the second half. It was his lowest percentage in 36 career games with the Lions.

He had just one catch for one yard in Chicago and made a critical error late in the second half as the Lions were looking to take their first lead of the game. He messed up a passing route that led to a Matthew Stafford interception at the Chicago 13-yard line with 16 seconds left and the Bears up 7-3.

"It's just a silly mistake on my part. I'll own up to that, missed a signal," Tate said after the game. "It cost us three points. It's tough. That can't happen in this offense. This team expects more out of me, so I've got to be on point. I missed a signal."

Andre Roberts played most of the second half, though Tate did catch a late two-point conversion to trim the Chicago lead to 17-14 with less than two minutes to play.

"The fact of the matter is that could turn around next week," Caldwell said. "If Golden catches 10 you're going to be asking me the same questions about Marvin (Jones Jr.), why did he only catch two? It was the same question asked week-to-week about Calvin (Johnson), you know, he only had eight balls, why didn't you throw it to him down the field more? Why not this, why not that?

"Every game is a little bit different. Teams are going to give you some little different things to deal with, other guys are going to get more opportunities and that's going to happen from week-to-week. I think you'll see it come."

Currently, Tate's 14 catches rank fifth behind receiver Marvin Jones Jr. (23), running back Theo Riddick (20), tight end Eric Ebron (18) and slot receiver Anquan Boldin (17).


Caldwell knew it was only a matter of time before the Lions broke a big play on special teams, and so did Roberts.

"The coaches have the confidence that I can do my job," Roberts said Monday, a day after recording an 85-yard punt return touchdown late vs. Chicago.

"I don't think there's been any notion from our coaches that they haven't had faith in me. We just had to get the job done."

Thanks to that 85-yard return, and 100 total punt return yards on two returns vs. the Bears, Roberts' punt return average went from 7.6 yards heading into the contest to 19.7 yards. He's now second in the NFL behind only Washington's Jamison Crowder (21.0).

"I'm very confident in our ability as a return team on doing something special every play," Roberts said. "It definitely helps to know that we're able to do it, that we've done it now, we just have to keep trying to do it every week."


The Lions averaged 127.5 yards on the ground over the first two games of the season, giving their offense some balance.

But since the loss of running back Ameer Abdullah to a foot injury Week 2, Detroit's mustered just a 58.0 average running the football in consecutive losses at Green Bay and Chicago.

"I just think that we just have not been as consistent in terms of our blocks up front, key blocks," head coach Jim Caldwell said.

"Not necessarily just means the offensive line, I'm talking about tight ends, if there's a back in there responsible for getting the block going, or a receiver. There's just been a couple things there that have been slowing us down, we just have not been able to, kind of, get on track doing like we were doing the first couple of weeks."

Caldwell said the Lions have to continue to be patient with their run game, but it's sometimes hard to stick with things that aren't working.

Theo Riddick carried the ball 11 times for 31 yards (2.8 average) in Chicago. Dwayne Washington had just two carries for six yards and played just seven snaps before injuring his ankle. Zach Zenner rushed three times for 12 yards.

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