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The Dolphins rank toward the bottom of the league in sacks, but Lions coach Matt Patricia said the team makes life uncomfortable for quarterbacks. Justin Rogers, The Detroit News

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Allen Park – Over his nine-year career, Golden Tate has firmly cemented his reputation as one of the NFL’s best receivers in the open field. The metrics show this, as he routinely finishes in the top five at his position in yards after the catch and making tacklers miss. 

But there’s a young challenger to Tate’s throne, one not afraid to publicly stake his claim. Miami’s Albert Wilson, who leads the league, by a wide margin, in average yards after the catch this season, has boldly claimed he’s the new king.

“I’m the best YAC receiver in the league, for sure,” Wilson said after Sunday’s win over the Chicago Bears.

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Tate isn’t mad about it. He’s not about to get into a war of words with a player he’ll share the field with this Sunday, when the Lions travel to Miami to face Wilson’s Dolphins. In fact, Tate was effusive in his praise for the young peer.

“I mean he’s really good,” Tate said. “He had a really good game last week, especially yards after the catch. He’s talented. He’s a really, really, really good player.”

But.

“You don’t get that title after five games, six games,” Tate said. “I let the people decide.”

Wilson, who is on pace for a career season in his first with Miami, has never caught more than 42 passes or gained more than 554 yards in his first four years in the league. Tate hasn’t caught fewer than 45 balls the past six years and has a streak of four-straight seasons with at least 90 catches.

But the always-confident Tate gets it. He wouldn’t have put it past himself to say something similar, well before he proved his elusiveness year after year on an NFL field.

"When I was younger, I thought I could run through a brick wall," Tate said. "I didn’t think anyone could tackle me. I thought I could run forever. I definitely get that mentality and that’s something that you want to have."

Wilson is coming off the best game of his career, a 155-yard, two-touchdown effort in a win over the Bears, with both scores coming on long catch and runs. That inflated his average yards after catch to 14.1, more than double Tate, who sits at 6.9 yards through five games. 

 

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