Browns running back Ben Tate plans on starting for the team, despite whoever they bring in to compete for the job.
BEREA, Ohio -- In three years with the Houston Texans, Cleveland Browns running back Ben Tate gained 1,992 yards and scored 10 touchdowns on 421 carries as a back-up to Arian Foster, who led the NFL with 1,616 rushing yards and 16 scores on 327 attempts in 2010.
After those three years as a backup, Tate is convinced he is starter material in the NFL, and plans on proving he is the best rusher on the Browns at training camp next month and again, in the fall during the 2014 regular season.
"This is a great opportunity," Tate said. "There's no way in the world I'm going to drop the ball on this opportunity. Honestly, I'm not worried about that because when I'm on my game, there's nobody that could touch me or anything I do.
"I've battled every day with who some people consider the best running back in the league, Arian Foster. I've seen the best. I went against him every day, so this around here, is really not anything."
That "this around here" Tate was talking about centers on rookie running back Terrance West, whom the Browns traded back into the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft in order to select.
In 2013, West gained 2,509 yards and scored 41 touchdowns on 413 carries for a Towson Tigers team that advanced to the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Championship Game.
But those statistics do little when it comes to impressing Tate.
"When I know I'm doing what I'm supposed to do, there's nobody in that room that scares me, but competition is a healthy thing," Tate said. "If I come in here and say, 'Oh, I've got this locked up,' and don't compete, that's how you lose your job and that's how you find your way out of the league fast.
"I'm a natural competitor, so that's just in me. I hope the other running backs want to compete because that's how we're going to get better as a unit, and that's what we want to be, one of the best units in the NFL."
Although he is new to offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's scheme too, Tate believes he has a leg up in the competition because West is still learning what it means to be a professional football player.
"He's a rookie, so he's having his difficult moments," Tate said. "He's having flashes of good moments. Right now, I'm just trying to help him out with every aspect of the game because this team is going to need both of us. I think that he could be a good, quality running back. I'm trying to help out all the running backs."
While Tate talks about the confidence he has in his abilities, West is focused on improving his skills with every opportunity he gets during practice.
"That's our job, to come out here and compete and push us forward, each and every one of us forward to bring the best out of each other," West said. "And that's what I'm here to do. I'm here to play. I want to be the starter, and I'm going to practice like a starter.
"Each day, I'm getting better and better. The game is slowing down at practice. That's because I'm learning the playbook very fast."
Part of the reason West is working so hard to learn the playbook is because, in his opinion, life in the NFL is "all about teamwork and winning here."
"I'm just thankful to have an opportunity to receive a contract, be in this situation and just take advantage of this opportunity," West said.
"You play Pop Warner. Then, you play high school ball. Then, you play college and are playing for free. Now, it's a business. Getting a check for it is amazing, but that's not going to change anything. I've still got to take care of business on the field to get the next check."