It would be selling Golden Tate short and taking his accomplishments lightly to say he has done more than carry his weight in five seasons since coming to the Detroit Lions as a free agent.
What Tate has accomplished is remarkable for a wide receiver of any size, let alone one who at 5-10 and 197 pounds regularly subjects himself to punishment by going over the middle to make catches and work to gain yards after contact.
With 33 catches for 431 yards and three touchdowns after five games, Tate is on course for a fifth straight season with at least 90 catches. Among active players, only the Steelers’ Antonio Brown has reached that level. Brown has set the bar even higher, with five straight seasons of at least 100 catches.
If he maintains his current rate, Tate will set personal highs for catches (105) and receiving yards (1,379). Both would top his previous highs of 99 catches and 1,331 yards, both in 2014, his first season as a Lion.
Relentless and consistent are two words that describe Tate’s playing style. He is proud to have both attached to his name.
“Consistency is job security,” Tate said as the Lions headed into their bye week. “That’s what this league is built on. Somebody who consistently is going to show up, work hard, catch the ball when it’s thrown to him, run the right routes, block the correct guy.
“That’s how you stay in the league.”
Tate delivered a crunching block on LeGarrette Blount’s second one-yard TD run in Sunday’s win over the Packers.
That play, and Tate’s overall toughness, impressed head coach Matt Patricia.
“He just gets on them, and he keeps his feet alive,” Patricia said. “He does a lot of that dirty work down in there.”
Tate annually ranks among wide receivers for yards after the catch, and that’s the case again this year. He is second with 234, two yards behind Cooper Kupp of the Rams.
Against the Packers, Tate might have added a new category – yards gained dragging a 196-pound defensive back who has a grip on your facemask.
Tate got the last nine yards of a 13-yard reception with Jackson holding his face mask. The 15-yard penalty made it a net gain of 28 yards. The possession ended in a touchdown pass to Kenny Golladay early in the fourth quarter that extended the Lions’ lead to 31-14.
“I didn’t even notice the face mask,” Tate said. “When they called it ... OK.”
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was effusive in his praise of Tate in a press conference with the media covering the Patriots before their game with the Lions in Week 3.
Belichick was asked about the challenge of getting Tate on the ground after a catch. His answer sounded like a scouting report at a team meeting.
View the best photos of the offense from the first five games of the season.
“Very challenging; Golden is excellent with the ball in his hands,” Belichick said. “He’s good without the ball in his hands. He gets open a lot, runs very good routes. He’s a hard guy to cover. Once he touches the ball he’s strong, he runs through contact.
“He’s fast, he’s quick, he changes direction well. He has very good vision. He sees openings in spaces in the field. From his punt-return background, his kick-return background.
“When he gets the ball, he can get into those spaces, and he runs through tackles. He has good balance.”
Tate, who turned 30 in August, shows no signs of wear and tear. He has been durable throughout his career, and an iron man with the Lions. He has missed one game since his rookie season with the Seahawks in 2012 and has not missed a game with the Lions.
Tate talks like every game — and every play -- is an audition to keep his job, even with a proven record of production and durability.
“Man, there’s always room for improvement,” he said. “When you get complacent, you get caught. The day I think I figured this game out is probably the day I’m out
“There are faster guys coming into the league. I can’t have that mantra that I figured it out, that I’m entitled to my job. That’s when they cut you, trade you off or let you walk.”