‘Playoffs,’ not pecking order, is No. 1 for Tate

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
Golden Tate

Allen Park — Since 2008, just two players have led the Lions in receiving yards in a given year.

In seven of those seasons, Calvin Johnson was the top receiver, but when Johnson dealt with an ankle injury for much of 2014, Golden Tate led the team with an impressive 1,331 yards.

So, with Johnson retiring this offseason, the expectation is that Tate will be the Lions’ No. 1 receiver. However, with the team signing Marvin Jones to a five-year, $40 million deal — which is more than Tate’s five-year, $31 million contract from 2014 — it’s unclear whether Tate or the newcomer will be the new No. 1.

Tate said Thursday he doesn’t care where he stacks up on the depth chart.

“If we get to the playoffs, that’s all that matters,” he said after one of the team’s voluntary workout sessions.

Back in February, when Johnson was still mulling retirement, Tate said he’d be ready to be the No. 1 receiver. Of course, Jones signed with the Lions hoping to have more opportunities than he did in Cincinnati playing second fiddle to A.J. Green.

The 5-foot-10 Tate and 6-foot-2 Jones are very different players, and which player leads the team in a given game likely will depend on matchups. Having played with quarterback Matthew Stafford for two years, Tate would seem to be the most likely top receiver, but Jones still has a lot of untapped potential.

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But whether Tate has 800 yards or 1,300 yards, he said winning will remain the focus.

“My mentality hasn’t changed at all from the day I walked in,” he said. “I’ve never seen myself as a No. 2 receiver, and I’ve said it before; I don’t care if I was playing with Jerry Rice and Cris Carter. That’s just not how I see myself and that’s just how I’m driven.

“So, I’m coming in with intensity high, trying to help set a standard and win ballgames. I don’t want to get caught up in too much of the ones, the twos. I just want to win games.”