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Ben Tate is ready to prove he can be an elite running back in the NFL

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

Running back Ben Tate heads into free agency as the top running back on the market.

Multiple national outlets, like Yahoo Sports, NFL.com and Pro Football Talk all consider Tate the best free agent running back in 2014.

"It lets me know that my hard work hasn't gone unnoticed," Tate said in an interview with FOX 26 Sports.

"Even with my limited, I guess you would say my limited amount of snaps and my limited amount of being able to be out there and play, that my talent is still recognized. It's very much appreciated.

"I'm just happy that everyone sees it kind of the way I see it, that I am the top running back in free agency without a doubt."

Tate, who was drafted in the second round by the Texans in 2010 and started nine games for Houston during that time, is ready for free agency.

"It's exciting, It's exciting," Tate said. "It's something that I've been waiting for. It's very exciting. I just can't wait for the opportunity.

Along with being excited, Tate said he is a bit nervous as well.

"Kind of all of those wrapped into one," Tate said. "It's almost here."

Tate, who started seven games last season replacing the injured Arian Foster, has come to terms with the fact his time in Houston is over.

"Yea I have, I have," Tate said. "I'm very grateful for the Texans selecting me and giving me an opportunity coming out of college.

"Without a doubt I'm very grateful for that. I just see it as a chapter closing in my life and opening a new chapter."

The Texans are not in position to pay Tate what he is expected to get on the free agent market.

In 2013 Tate ran for 771 yards, averaging 4.3 yards a carry.

He had his best season in 2011 when he ran for 942 yards, averaging 5.4 yards a carry.

Tate said he will have a message for those teams who are interested in his services.

"I think I can bring you an elite running back," Tate said. "I've learned a lot being behind Arian. Definitely, when I'm healthy I think I'm an elite running back in this league, and I feel like I can show my abilities and my numbers and my play will speak for itself, and guys will be able to see that I am a guy who is a top-five running back in this league, which I believe once I get out there and get to show that on a consistent basis.

"That's something I'm more excited for and something that I'm working hard this offseason just to prove my worth, that I am that person or that player that I think I am."

Tate suffered four broken ribs against the Kansas City Chiefs during week seven of last season, but he continued to play for as long as he could.

Tate reinjured the ribs eight weeks later against the Indianapolis Colts and was placed on injured reserve, missing the final two games of the season.

"I think it shows them that I am a tough player," Tate said. "That something is going to have to be really wrong, something that really affects me at the running back spot for me not to want to play.

"That's just how I've always been. I always wanted to be known as a tough guy who (when injured) can go out there and still help my team get the job done."

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