If there was one consistent theme for the Cincinnati Bengals throughout their recently completed minicamp, it was rookie wide receiver Auden Tate making amazing catches.
A seventh-round pick from Florida State, Tate quickly got the attention of a guy who knows a little something about making great catches.
“Incredible,” Bengals Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green said when asked about Tate’s catch radius.
“We call him the a young Brandon Marshall,” Green added. “The guy has unbelievable hands. He’s big, great body control. He had a very good (minicamp).”
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It wasn’t that Tate simply made some impressive catches, it was that most of them were along the sideline or end line in the end zone, requiring him to go up and get the ball and find a way to get both feet in bounds.
That kind of athleticism coupled with his 6-foot-5 frame could make Tate a key target in the red zone.
“That’s how I started at Florida State and then just kind of built my role from there,” he said. “That’s probably how it’s going to go (here).”
It wasn’t just the catches he made that had Tate feeling good about his performance, but the fact that the quarterbacks were willing to throw to him in contested situations.
“It makes me feel great,” he said. “If everything is broken down, they can just give me a chance. I think it’s big building that chemistry and trust with the quarterbacks.”
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While some of Tate’s catches came in 1-on-1 or 7-on-7 drills, his final gem of the minicamp came in an 11-on-11 drill, and it came against the team’s top cornerback, William Jackson.
Tate out-fought Jackson for a pass the cornerback had tipped in the back corner of the end zone. It looked close whether Tate got both feet in, but the Bengals were using officials throughout the minicamp and the one in that corner of the end zone threw both hands up signaling a touchdown.
Tate said that was the catch that got the most reaction from his teammates.
“It was in a situational drill, so everybody’s watching,” he said. “(Jackson) thought he broke it up and it kind of tipped in the air and I just kind of found it and just got my feet down. It was cool.”
It also was a big confidence boost heading into the six-week break before the rest test comes during training camp, where Tate still will face some difficult odds to make the final 53-man roster.
“You always think you can play in the NFL but you never know until you get out there,” Tate said. “So now I know I can play with them. It just takes a lot of stress off me, so I’ll just go out there and play my game.”