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Q & A With New Texans RB, Ben Tate

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As he promised me before the draft if he was picked by the Texans, Ben Tate was kind enough to give me another interview. Based off of the comments and e-mails I received after asking what questions everyone would like to know the answers to, those are the questions that were asked. So, with that said, here we go:

Thanks for taking the time to do this again, Ben. These are some questions that the readers from Don't Mess With Texans and Battle Red Blog wanted to know the answers to.

First, In light of the recent revelations of the unusual questions Dez Bryant received in the drafting/interviewing method, the readers would like to know what the most unusual question you received during this same process? 

To be honest, I never really got any crazy questions.  I hear a lot of stories about people being asked weird ones, but I didn’t experience that.

We all know that guys coming out of the SEC have a great amount of pride for the conference. You are the first Auburn alum to join the Texans, but there are now three former members of the Alabama Crimson Tide on the team with you in Kareem Jackson, Antoine Caldwell and DeMeco Ryans. Are you looking forward to integrating with your former foes?

Yeah, it’s kind of funny that everyone keeps bringing that up, but we are teammates now so none of that really matters.  I’m sure whoever wins the Bama-Auburn game this year will be rubbing it in the others' faces a little bit.

Lots of fans have expressed how much they love the fact that you are reaching out via Twitter to them and to your new teammates. Are you hoping this will help to dull the amount of rookie hazing you will receive once camp begins this summer? The veterans take it very seriously. They even made Brian Cushing shave his long hair into a Mohawk last preseason.

Haha.  I don’t really think it will affect the hazing from the veterans, but I’m hoping it won’t be too bad either way.

It is probably a cliché question, but it was also the most requested one to ask you:  Who is your favorite running back still active in the NFL today?

LaDainian Tomlinson probably.  He has been doing it for such a long time and at such a high level that I just have a ton of respect for him.  He also is always doing and saying the right things off the field, which I respect.

There has been a lot of reaction to you coining the phrase "Slate & Tate" for the combo that yourself and Steve Slaton could provide this upcoming season. But do you have a preferred nickname for yourself? Because "Tate’r Salad" that some have started calling you around the comments and message boards just isn’t going to cut it.

Haha.  I’ll leave it up to you guys and the fans to pick the nickname, but let's stay away from that Salad one you just mentioned.

A serious problem with the running backs in Houston last season was their problems holding onto the ball. What do you do to counter against guys slapping at the ball and trying to create a turnover?

I just focus on carrying the ball high and tight and always focus on keeping a tight grip even when I’m about to go down.  I feel like a lot of the time that’s when fumbles happen, so I just try to be aware at all times.

How would you grade yourself when it comes to blocking in pass protection? Did you do much of this at Auburn and do you have any problems being asked to do so?

I feel real confident in my ability to do this.  I did it a lot at Auburn and think it’s just a matter of just sticking your nose in there and really wanting to block.

As many have told you by now, Houston has a downright filthy rivalry going with the Tennessee Titans. It gets very physical between these two teams and a fight or three may occasionally break out. Certain players are accused of playing dirty; namely, Cortland Finnegan. With your statement of "If you can’t make ‘em miss, make ‘em pay" some have requested that I ask you if you could possibly make Cortland Finnegan pay with a nice stiff arm this season.

Ha Ha! You guys have a good sense of humor...but I’m not going to let you get me in trouble.  I definitely will always play with the philosophy you mentioned against all teams and all players, including the Titans twice a year.

Yeah, I had to try...Okay, this is one of my questions. In the video you posted on your Facebook when you received the call from Coach Kubiak, it was noticeable how many cameras and media members were in attendance along with your family. Was this local media or are you going to be featured on "Hey Rookie, Welcome to The NFL" like current Texans James Casey was last year?

It was a combination of different media, but I will be featured on "Hey Rookie, Welcome to the NFL."  They were there both nights of the draft and even hung out with me and my family during day 2 leading up to the draft when we went bowling, so it should make for good TV.  We also broadcasted live on Ustream which was pretty cool and got a real positive response from the fans.

Yeah, it was great. You seem to know a lot about the Texans' current team and their highly touted offensive attack. I don’t imagine too many Texans games are broadcast in the Southeast, so did you know much about them before being drafted here or did you just do some research after the fact?

I mean, everyone knows what a great WR Andre Johnson is and I knew Matt Schaub made the Pro Bowl, so while I didn’t get the chance to watch a ton of their games, I just felt like they had a great offensive attack.  And yes, after being drafted I definitely went on the website to look at their roster and see some of the other weapons they had.

Do you think that the Zone Blocking Scheme that Houston runs is the best fit for your game and if so, how?

Yeah I do.  I went to Auburn because they ran the same system and I think it’s just about having patience and then hitting the hole hard when you see the opportunity.

Now that you've picked out your new jersey number, is there significance to choosing the number 43 in Houston, or is it just that it is the closest to the 44 you wore in college?

I liked 44 because it’s the number I wore at Auburn and in High School (and my father and Uncle both wore it in college), but I knew I didn’t have that option when the Texans drafted me so I took the closest thing to it.  At first I wasn’t sure if I’d like how it looked, but after I saw it on me the 1st day I said to myself "Ok, I think I like this."

Of all the guys on the team that have reached out to you on Twitter, which were you most looking forward to meeting?

All of them to be honest.  There have been so many who have been cool and taken it upon themselves to reach out to me, so it just seems like there are a ton of good guys on the team and I’m looking forward to getting to know all of them.

Terrific. Okay and just for fun, who is going to win the NBA title this season?

Lakers over the Celtics in 7!

And there you have it. Thanks again to Ben for taking the time out of his busy schedule to talk to me. Nice guy and I just can't say enough about him. Looking forward to seeing him on the field. If anyone doesn't know it yet, you can find Ben on his Facebook and on Twitter. He's very active on both, will chat back and forth with you, and even gives away jerseys and autographs and stuff to fans all the time on there. So follow him and become a fan or whatever meets your fancy. I'd also like to thank Emily Dawson, Ben's publicist from ESBL Sports Management for helping this all come together. And lastly I want to say thank you to all the people who donated questions for Ben. You guys kick ass!