Bengals: Tee Higgins’ injury gives Auden Tate a deserved chance
The Cincinnati Bengals may have lost one of their wide receivers to injury for the time being, but Auden Tate is here to save the day.
Tee Higgins’ shoulder injury has him listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and after missing practices this week, it seems extremely unlikely he’ll play.
The Bengals will miss Higgins’ consistent production and physicality, but wide receiver isn’t one of their weaknesses this season, and good thing they have Auden Tate to fill his position.
So far in 2021, the Bengals’ offense hasn’t quite lived up to expectations, especially after a deflating loss to the Chicago Bears in Week 2.
The three-pronged threat of Higgins, Tyler Boyd, and Ja’Marr Chase has only shone as much as Joe Burrow has shone, and it’s fair to say Burrow is still getting used to his first year back from injury.
So a change to the starting wide receiver lineup could be a good thing.
Auden Tate will likely battle Mike Thomas for snaps, but the fourth-year pro has been a dark horse running for the wideout position ever since his stellar training camp. If the Bengals aren’t careful, another team could poach Tate, and Cincinnati’s offense will suddenly look much more tame.
Cincinnati Bengals’ wideout Auden Tate gets his chance to shine vs. Pittsburgh
In 2020, Tate recorded 14 catches for 150 yards in nine games, but the year prior he posted a career high 575 receiving yards.
This preseason, Chase’s initial struggles gave Tate a sliver of hope at winning more offensive snaps. Tate does, after all, have more experience than the rookie, and his larger physique makes him a superior end zone target.
But Chase improved, and Tate lost his chance. Now, with Higgins’ injury, Tate has his best opportunity to remind everyone that he’s very much a part of this Bengals’ offense, too.
Tate usually excels at contested catches, and he already has a similar build and playing style to that of Higgins. This is the most ideal plug-and-play situation Cincinnati could have asked for — although wideout rival Mike Thomas has gotten more minutes than Tate in the last two games.
Still, Tate isn’t necessarily competing for a starting spot right now. Once Higgins recovers, he’ll take back his rightful position. But Sunday’s game will let Tate show the Bengals what they’re missing, as well as other NFL teams who might be on the prowl for a quality wide receiver this season.
There’s no telling how much Zac Taylor will incorporate Tate into the offense, but one thing is for certain: don’t underestimate Auden Tate.