To say the Cleveland Browns' 2014 season didn't play out as the franchise hoped would be an understatement.
What with Johnny Manziel's tumultuous time as an NFL rookie and star wide receiver Josh Gordon missing all but five games through suspension, the coaching staff at the Browns had plenty to contend with as they meandered to a 7-9 record.
Locker room issues
And now one member of that staff, Wilber Montgomery, has exposed details of locker room tension between three players that became a "distraction" that the Browns ultimately couldn't handle.
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Montgomery - a running backs coach in Cleveland - opened up about just why big money free agency signing Ben Tate failed to fit with the Browns in 2014:
"Tate came in early and they paid him (free-agent) money to come here so he felt he was 'the guy' and the other guys were in way...It created friction."
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The Browns coach bore witness to Tate's struggles to come to terms with the fact that rookies Isaiah Crowell and Terrence West were encroaching on his touches. Rather than embrace the competition it looks like the change of circumstances turned things toxic:
"It was bad," Montgomery explained to The Cleveland Plain Dealer.
"They would get into it, you know, in the locker room, just having words, and in the meeting room, and it takes away from what you are doing on the field. It becomes a distraction."
Had Ben Tate not picked up an injury in Week One of the 2014 campaign then who knows what would have happened but, as it was, the veteran running back failed to get the bell cow role he thought was his.
Ultimately, a mixture of his on-field struggles and off-field arguments led to Tate being waived by Cleveland before the season was out.
Although the Browns once again have three running backs vying for carries as we approach the 2015 season - they drafted Duke Johnson in the third round - Montgomery says the atmosphere is far more friendly this time around:
"This year there is no friction at all. Everybody is out relaxing and playing...We have no personality problems."
The slight on Ben Tate's character is unlikely to do the 26-year-old any favors as he looks to find a new team for the upcoming season.
Having spent time with the Vikings and Steelers since being dropped by the Browns, it is unclear which team will be next to give him a chance.
Browns fans: What are your minimum expectations for the 2015 season? Have your say in the comments below...
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to the tension between Tate and rookie Isaiah Crowell and Terrence West
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