New Bucs wide receiver Russell Gage has been hampered by a minor, unknown injury this offseason. It’s prevented Gage from practicing in the OTAs and the team’s mandatory mini-camp.
Tampa Bay signed the former Falcons receiver to a three-year deal worth $30 million this offseason. He’s expected to replace Antonio Brown as the team’s No. 3 receiver behind Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, who is coming off a torn ACL.
The first time Gage was seen catching passes on the field was in warm-ups with Tom Brady this week prior to the start of the mini-camp practices. The missed practice reps have put Gage behind in his preparation for the 2022. Brady said Thursday that it’s critical for Gage put in the work and be ready for training camp and the start of the regular season.
“[He needs] a lot of work,” Brady said. “He has to have a big year. We signed him to a contract and he has to come in and do a great job. From the time I spent with him, I really enjoyed it. He’s got a great opportunity. That is very important role.
Bucs WR Russell Gage – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
“For an offense that throws the ball as much as we do, we have very favorable passing conditions. You need a lot of good receivers. We have depth at receiver. Obviously, Mike is a great player. Chris is coming off a pretty significant injury. So, Russell has to do a great job, and Scotty [Miller] and B.P. [Breshad Perriman] and Cyril [Grayson], Jaelon [Darden] and Tyler [Johnson] – all those guys that have had experienced and played. They have to do a great job, too. It’s a very competitive room, and Russ, when he’s out there, there’s a lot of work that needs to go into over the next six weeks to be ready.”
Bucs Might Have To Count On Gage Even More If Godwin Isn’t Ready For Week 1
The sense of urgency from Brady stems from the fact that the Bucs were without Godwin, Perriman, Grayson – and, of course, Brown – in the 30-27 playoff loss to the Rams back in January. Throw in the fact that there is no guarantee that Godwin will be ready for the start of the season and it’s clear that Brady is counting on Gage to be ready to star in the 2022 season opener at Dallas.
“We’re challenged right out of the box this year,” Brady said. “We’ve got really good teams. We’ve got to have a great training camp. We know when training camp is – it’s the 23rd of July. We know we’ve got six weeks of training camp, but I feel like it starts – obviously, the season has already started. You’re competing every day out there. You are either getting better or you’re getting worse. You’re not going out there just to break a sweat. You’re going out there to get things done.
“I think this should be, in my opinion, our best opportunity to play our best football because we’ve been together the longest. Why shouldn’t it be? We know each other. We know the scheme. We’ve been through a lot of challenging circumstances in games, and now we have to go out there and execute it as well as we possibly can.”