When the Buccaneers signed receiver Julio Jones the attention of NFL media was locked in on the 33-year-old. Jones looked sharp in his first appearance at training camp. But if you ask head coach Todd Bowles, the receiver standing out the most is Russell Gage.
“I Don’t Think We’ve Covered Him Yet”
“The receivers are doing a good job,” Bowles stated Friday. “Gage has really been the one to stand out. I don’t think we’ve covered him [on a route] yet. He’s been doing a good job the past couple of days. Again, we’re out of pads, but he’s a guy that flashes and shows quickness and fluidity and everything else that I’ve seen the past two days.”
Gage signed a three-year $30 million dollar deal with the Bucs earlier this offseason. After missing OTAs and minicamp with an injury, Gage has been the standout amongst the receivers.
“It helps so much just being out there on offense, learning what Tom (Brady) does, what he expects out of me and just kind of hitting the ground running,” Gage stated. “Playing and getting that experience with guys is always the best way to learn and to get ahead of the game, ahead of the system. That’s been the biggest thing so far, I think.”
Gage is on our opinion an underrated receiver in this league. Last season, on a bad Falcons’ team, Gage posted 770 yards on 66 catches and four touchdowns. With the Buccaneers, Gage looks to be set to take the slot position. Especially if Chris Godwin’s return from injury takes longer than expected.
Some would say the Buccaneers’ receiving corp will be crowded when Godwin returns. Todd Bowles commented on this,
“Signing Julio was not only for the long haul; it was just as much doing different things on offense and being able to replace (Rob Gronkowski) ‘s catches,” Bowles stated. “Gronk had a lot of catches and showed up in a lot of areas. We’ll approach things a little bit differently since we’ve got a bunch of receivers.”
It appears Gage has landed in the perfect situation. The Bucs need to account for a lot of catches and yards left by Gronkowski’s retirement. And if training camp is any indication, Gage is poised to be that guy and fill that void.
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