Bengals Brandon Tate Keep Improving In Return Games

SEATTLE - OCTOBER 30: Brandon Tate #19 of the Cincinnati Bengals returns a punt for a touchdown against David Vobora #54 of the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on October 30, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. The Bengals defeated the Seahawks 34-12.(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

At one point earlier in the season, questions were asked wondering if Quan Cosby's released for recently acquired Brandon Tate actually made the team worse. Cosby wasn't a break-away returner in the mold of Devin Hester, breaking tackles or instinctively attacking the running lane that would eventually develop. But he was, a fair word to use, stable. Though Cosby wasn't a kickoff returner, Tate was viewed as cost-saver, so to speak, for his ability to return both punts and kickoffs. Besides that, he wasn't efficient.

He would return kickoffs nine yards deep in the endzone, barely making it to the 15-yard line, much less the 20. And failing to haul in punts, as opposed to fair catching it, often put the Bengals inside the opposing 10-yard line. New England waived him during final cuts in 2011 because as one team observer noted, "He was among the worst kick returners at the end of the season."

However Tate has developed. Against the Buffalo Bills, Tate's longest punt return went 14 yards. Against the Jaguars, it was 22 yards. Against the Colts, it was 33 yards. Against the Seattle Seahawks, Tate returned a punt 56 yards for a touchdown. [Note: We'd be remise not to point out that Tate also had his worst punt return performance last week against the Titans with five returns for nine yards]

As for kickoff returns, Tate averaged 22.0 yards/return against the Buffalo Bills. That improved to 25.3 yards/return against the Jaguars, 27.5 yards/return against the Colts and 28.3 yards/return against the Seahawks, where he posted a season-high return of 45 yards.

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