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O'HARA: Tate looking forward to third preseason matchup

Wide receiver Golden Tate doesn't have a lot to prove about his state of preparedness for the regular season or how he'll perform.

He has compiled an impressive resume with his work ethic and production in his four seasons with the Detroit Lions.

Tate is the only player in franchise history with four straight seasons of at least 90 catches, and he has been at the top or near it every year among wide receivers in yards after the catch.

But there is always room to improve, even in the preseason. After lackluster performances in the first two games, Tate is looking for the offense to function at a high level in Friday night's road game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

It's the third preseason game, which is considered the dress rehearsal for the regular season. That means extended playing time for the starters, and an opportunity to have a semblance of preparing for a regular season game.

"One thing we don't want to have to learn about going into week one (of the regular season) is guys wondering how to install, and how we're going to watch film," Tate said. "That's what this week is for.

"I definitely appreciate it. I'm excited for this weekend. I look forward to it. We want everybody to be on the same page, as much as we can have everyone on the same page."

The offense was largely ineffective in the first two games. The Lions have scored only three touchdowns, and two of those were in the fourth quarter of last week's 30-17 loss to the Giants, who had commanding leads of 24-3 and 30-10 before the offense showed any life under backup quarterback Jake Rudock.

The offense lacked rhythm and consistency. The quarterbacks have been sacked eight times, and the running game, which has been a target for improvement, has averaged just 3.4 yards per carry.

Despite the puny stats, there is no sense of panic on Tate's part. For one thing, he's used to the offense producing. And the fact that starting quarterback Matthew Stafford played only three possessions in Game 2 should not be discounted.

"We're still looking for that week where we play good, solid, fundamentally sound football," Tate said. "We really want that. We want to show Coach (Matt) Patricia that we're capable of doing that on a consistent basis.

"One thing you can count on, we're working hard. We're definitely out there working hard every day. We're trying to be that team everybody expects us to be – and we expect to be."

The passing game has carried the offense for the last few seasons. The core of the wide receiving unit is back -- the top three of Marvin Jones Jr., Kenny Golladay and Tate, with TJ Jones providing depth.

The backfield has been strengthened with the addition of veteran LeGarrette Blount and rookie Kerryon Johnson. Left guard Frank Ragnow was drafted in the first round to strengthen the offensive line.

The most uncertain unit is tight end. There's almost a complete makeover, with the departure of Eric Ebron and Darren Fells in free agency.

"I think it's different," Stafford said. "There's different personnel. We have to see what those guys do well. I have to keep getting them opportunities in the pass game and see which guys can go out and make a play for us."

Regardless of who's new and who's back, Tate has never felt like the offense was overmatched.

"We know we have a good team," he said. "The talent hasn't ever, since I've been here, been the problem. We just have to put it all together consistently."

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