Falcons’ Russell Gage Named ‘Biggest Offseason Standout’

Russell Gage

Getty Russell Gage #83 of the Atlanta Falcons.

All eyes will be on the Atlanta Falcons this season now the Julio Jones is dressing for Tennessee. It’s not such a bad thing for Atlanta, who has plenty of other weapons for Matt Ryan to throw to.

But while top wideout Calvin Ridley was sidelined through mandatory minicamp following surgery, their No. 2 wideout Russell Gage stole the spotlight.

Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski picked one player from all 32 NFL teams as the biggest offseason standout.

For the Falcons, Sobleski selected Gage over Kyle Pitts or Ridley:

No one will ever truly replace Julio Jones in the Atlanta Falcons’ lineup. Still, the franchise’s greatest player does leave a void that someone must try to replace. After all, the 32-year-old wide receiver, whom the Falcons traded to the Tennessee Titans, leaves behind a significant role.

Calvin Ridley will pick up some of the slack. Russell Gage is the obvious candidate to flourish without Jones. Gage finished last season with 72 receptions for 786 yards. His usage should dramatically increase under new head coach Arthur Smith.

“Russ has done a nice job in the slot, but we’ll move Russ all over the place and then we got to make a decision as we get closer to the season, all right, we’re giving him a shot here,” Smith told reporters. “He’s done well. He’s grown his game. Done this with a lot of players, and everybody’s on a different timeline.”

Check out Gage, now No. 14, in action:

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Gage Understands His New Role

Ridley will take Jones’ spot as the Falcons No. 1 wideout while the pressure will be on Gage at No. 2.

“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.”

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 Will Have to Battle For Ryan’s Attention

Gage will be up against Pitts, Hurst, and Ridley when it comes to gaining Ryan’s trust and 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.”

Expect Gage to enter 2021 hungry for more targets this season.


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