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Tate wants to work on his endurance, route running

Golden Tate became just the second receiver in Detroit Lions history (Herman Moore) to record three seasons with at least 90 catches. He finished 2016 with 91 receptions for 1,077 yards and four touchdowns. He caught 90 passes last season and 99 in 2014.

He's the first player in franchise history to accomplish the feat in his first three seasons with the team.

It was another good season for Tate from an individual standpoint, especially given his slow start.

But there's obviously a bad taste left in his mouth from a team perspective with the disappointing finish the Lions had to the season, losing their last four games. Tate couldn't help but wonder Monday, as he talked with reporters while cleaning out his locker in Allen Park, what could have been if Detroit's offense wasn't hit with so many injuries this season --  Especially injuries to their top two running backs, Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick.

"You look back at what Theo and Ameer brought to the table," Tate said. "They are guys that can run it 80 yards from the backfield, but those are also guys that I love our chances (in the pass game) against a linebacker 10 out of 10 days. I don't care if you find the best cover linebacker or safety. I don't think they can cover Ameer or Theo.

"Not having those guys be able to come out of the backfield, run their option routes, it definitely affected us. But that's a part of the game."

Detroit's offense finished the season 30th in rushing, which had a trickle-down effect to every other aspect.

Injuries are a part of this game. It's not a matter of if injuries will occur, but when. The really good teams find a way to overcome them. The Lions did that to a point, getting themselves in the playoffs, but Tate doesn't think they did as good a job as they could in that regard, and that goes for himself as well.

"It just means receivers and tight ends need to step up more and we didn't do that this year," he said. "That's one thing I know I'm going to take personal and work my tail off to come back next year and be stronger and faster."

Tate plans to take a little time off to heal, and he'll no-doubt enjoy his wedding planned for later this spring, but then it's back to work. He has a specific plan on what he wants to work on and how he wants to come back better in 2017.

"For me, definitely work on my endurance," he said. "You look at some of the great receivers and those guys can just run for days. They never run lazy routes because they're in condition. So just work on my conditioning."

That certainly looked to be an issue for Tate early on in the season, when he recorded just 16 catches for 134 yards and no scores in the team's first five games.

"Always room for route running, obviously, which I think goes hand and hand with endurance," he continued. "Work on my releases. And just the things I'm good at be a little bit better."

Tate's 91 receptions ranked 10th in the league, and his 1,077 yards were 15th best, but there's always room for improvement. Tate vows to come back an even better player in 2017 -- a player who can hopefully help the Lions get over the playoff hump.

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