Falcons WR Russell Gage Stoked to Play Alongside ‘Beast’

Russell Gage

Getty Russell Gage #83 of the Atlanta Falcons makes the catch.

Now that Julio Jones is no longer in the picture, Russell Gage will be playing alongside Calvin Ridley, the Atlanta Falcons’ new No. 1 wide receiver.

There will be a lot more pressure on Gage this season, but he is more than ready to take on the hefty workload and partner with Ridley.

“Calvin’s a beast,” Gage said via the team’s website. “You guys saw him work and know that he’s explosive. Against single coverage, defenses really can’t do it. He’s a beast. He’s the definition of playing fast and being decisive. I’m excited to play across from him this year. It’s going to be fun.”

Of course, there are high expectations for Ridley to fill Jones’s shoes as the No. 1 option, but he has set the bar even higher than that for himself.

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Ridley Believes He Can Do Better

An injury setback kept Ridley from reaching his goal of 1000 yards in 2019. He was so close to the mark with 63 catches for 866 yards and seven touchdowns in 13 games.

Ridley returned in 2020 determined to reach his goal and ended up going above and beyond with 90 catches for 1,347 yards and nine touchdowns.

That seems like a reasonable standard for a young wideout, but not for Ridley. He sees better days ahead of him

“There’s confidence in the fact that I know I can do better,” Ridley said this week. “I know the type of player I am, that I’m good. I know that I can play the game well, and there’s confidence in that I’m ready to win. I really believe in our team. It’s time to win some games for the city.”

Since being drafted in 2018, Ridley’s progress has only gone up so the Falcons saw it was only appropriate to pick up his fifth-year option this offseason.

If his numbers continue to spike, he could be on track for an even bigger extension.

Ridley Feels Zero Pressure to Fill Jones’s Shoes

Ridley feels no pressure taking over Jones’s role, especially since he left him with the keys to be successful.

“Just the confidence [Jones] has every week and being the No. 1 receiver and going out to work every day, I feel like you have to believe in yourself,” Ridley said via ESPN. “And by my second year, that’s when I realized that’s what he’s all about, confidence.

“So when I realized that, I just started to think that, I didn’t think that I’m better than him, but I just believed in myself and I really think that made me a better player. I really believe in myself.”

Ridley has been healing from minor foot surgery but is expected to be ready to go for training camp which kicks off at the end of July.

Over three seasons in the league, Ridley has 217 receptions, 3,061 yards, and 26 touchdowns and has proven that the Falcons passing game is still top-notch without Jones as the No. 1 option.


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