“I understand my role may have increased, but I’m ready for it,” Gage said, via AtlantaFalcons.com. “We’re going to keep moving forward.”
Ridley will take Jones’ spot as the Falcons No. 1 wideout while the pressure will be on Gage at No. 2.
Gage was originally drafted as a sixth-round pick in 2018 where he saw just six catches for 63 yards. The following season, his production spiked when the Falcons traded Mohamed Sanu in the midst of the 2019 campaign. This move opened up plenty of opportunity for the then-second-year wideout who reeled in 49 catches for 446 yards and a touchdown.
Last season, Gage was able to continue to excel with 72 catches for 786 yards and four touchdowns.
Gage Learned From the Best
Gage will have some competition to battle with on his own team after the Falcons drafted another weapon for Matt Ryan this year in tight end Kyle Pitts.
Falcons head coach Arthur Smith plans to run a lot of duel-TE formations with Pitts and Hurst, which will leave Gage fighting for Ryan’s attention.
However, the 25-year-old is not worried about that. He thinks he has an advantage after learning from the best over the past three seasons. Jones left Gage his key to success.
“Run. That was [Julio’s] biggest thing,” said Gage. “Speed off the ball and running. A lot of guys get too caught up thinking into their routes. Understand that even if you make a mistake, make it full speed. A receiver’s biggest asset is his speed. Whatever it is, you need to display it.”
Gage thought back to his second season after Sanu was traded to when he had an impressive showing against the Seahawks, catching seven passes on nine targets for 58 yards.
“My first game was Seattle and there was a lot of things going through my head,” Gage said thinking back to 2019. “There was a lot of ‘I don’t want to mess this up, I have to understand my landmark here.’ And Julio came up to me and reminded me your strongest point, your biggest asset is going to be running, running full speed. That’s how you make guys make mistakes.”
Jones’s Absence Is Not The End of the World for Atlanta
Yes, Jones leaving the Falcons franchise after a decade is but it’s not the end of the world for Atlanta, in fact, it’s the beginning.
That might sound cliche, but Matt Ryan’s offense is stacked with weapons in every direction, including the backfield. Ryan will have options in veteran tight end Hayden Hurst and duel threat Kyle Pitts, along with wideouts Ridley and Gage and running back Mike Davis.
Hurst has been grinding in the gym and is down to almost eight percent body fat while Gage and Ridley are entering their fourth year with plenty of experience under now underneath of them. Not to mention, Pitts is already projected to be the best TE in NFL history.
But the best part, the Falcons will be led by new head coach Arthur Smith, who is responsible for turning around the Tennessee Titans’ offense the last two seasons.
It’s hard to continue weeping when looking at the endless possibilities that will be surrounding Coach Smith and Ryan.
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