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Lions' Tate thinks he'll bounce back under Cooter

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Chandler’s Cross, England — Golden Tate is coming off his worst game with the Lions after having just two catches for 14 yards in last week’s loss to the Vikings.

Although he respects former offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, he hopes to be more of a factor the rest of the season under Jim Bob Cooter.

“Hopefully, this is the start of some change,” Tate said Thursday at The Grove, the luxury resort outside London where the team is preparing for Sunday’s game against the Chiefs (9:30 a.m., FOX)

“That would be nice to get some more targets and get better opportunities and just make use of the targets that I do get.”

Tate said he signed with the Lions last year to win, not set personal records, but in his first year, he did both as the team finished 11-5 and went to the postseason.

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“I had record numbers last year, so I obviously I really liked him,” said Tate, who had career highs with 99 catches for 1,331 yards in 2014.

In 2015, the Lions (1-6) aren’t winning. And in the losses, Tate has been contributing minimally as he’s on pace for 727 receiving yards, which would be his lowest output since 2012. Tate is also in danger of not improving his yardage and receptions after doing so in each of his first five NFL seasons.

So, as much as Tate liked Lombardi, he’s ready for something to change.

With 61 targets, Tate is tied for 14th in the NFL. Last year, he ranked 10th with 142, but considering Calvin Johnson missed three games, the disparity isn’t surprising.

The problem seems to be that Tate’s targets have too often come with the game out of reach this year, and he and quarterback Matthew Stafford don’t have the same connection they did last season. In 2014, Tate caught 69.7 percent of his targets compared to 55.7 percent this season.

And when Tate does get the ball, he’s averaging just 9.4 yards per reception, the lowest mark of his career and 4 yards behind last year’s rate.

“I’ve just got to find a way to be better and hopefully Sunday is the start,” he said.

Coach Jim Caldwell, as he often does, pointed to every game being different when asked why Tate hasn’t had as many explosive plays before expanding.

“He’s one of those guys, I think, that he thrives off getting that ball in his hands like most good ones do,” Caldwell said. “He wants the ball, wants to be a good player, wants to be a factor and we’re fortunate to have him. We’ve just got to find ways to get him enough where he can get us a few explosive plays.”

And even though Tate has looked visibly frustrated during games, he said his problem is more with the piling losses.

“For me, I just don’t take losing very well,” he said. “I’m a very passionate player. I’m a very passionate talker as well, and I think sometimes people can take that the wrong way. But, if you know me, you understand who I am. It’s just tough man.”

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