Buccaneers Make Critical Moves Before Falcons Game

Tom Brady & Byron Leftwich

Getty Tom Brady and Byron Lefwich may work a couple of rookies into the passing game on Sunday.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will look to a pair of rookie wide receivers to step up in Week 5 against the Atlanta Falcons.

The Bucs moved rookies Deven Thompkins and Kaylon Geiger up from the practice squad to the active roster on Saturday, October 8, amid unexpected changes this week. Tampa Bay will sit Russell Gage due to a back injury, reported by ESPN’s Jenna Laine on Saturday, October 8. The other surprise came when Cole Beasley retired from the Bucs after only two games on Wednesday, October 5. In addition, Julio Jones remains questionable for the Sunday, October 9 game with a torn PCL in his knee.

Geiger played twice this season at New Orleans in Week 2 and home against the Green Bay Packers in Week 3. He played five offensive snaps and 18 special teams snaps. The Bucs signed Geiger as an undrafted free agent in the offseason after his solid college career where he had 2,158 yards receiving and nine touchdowns in 35 games.

Thompkins will play in a regular season game for the first time on Sunday if he sees the field. The Bucs also signed him as an undrafted free agent after his impressive career at Utah State with 2,519 yards receiving and 15 touchdowns in 40 games.

Bucs head coach Todd Bowles said both rookies “can play” during a press conference after a preseason game in August.

Geiger and Thompkins will likely play on special teams, but how much they will line up in the passing game remains to be seen. The Bucs have Mike Evans and Chris Godwin ready to go as the top two receivers. Scotty Miller and Jaelon Darden will need to step up after quiet starts to the season. Breshad Perriman, who has been dealing with knee and hamstring injuries, remains questionable on the latest injury report.

Significant Change for Gage

Gage came off the injury report on Friday, October 7, but came back on less than 24 hours later for his back injury. He had limited participation all week.

An offseason free agent acquisition, Gage dealt with a hamstring injury since training camp, but he played in the first four games of the season. The former Falcons receiver particularly stepped up in the loss to the Packers with 12 catches for 87 yards and a touchdown. He has 21 receptions for 152 yards and a score overall this season.

Jones Could Miss First Shot at Old Team, Too

While Gage won’t see the field  against his old team for the first time on Sunday, the same fate awaits Jones.

After a stellar decade in Atlanta, Jones played for the Tennessee Titans in 2021 before joining the Bucs. Jones hasn’t played against the Falcons since leaving Atlanta, but his nagging knee injury could keep him out of the Week 5 game amid limited participation in practice all week.

Jones played well  the season opener but missed two games due to PCL tear in his knee, and his return against the Kansas City Chiefs proved short lived in just one half of action. The Bucs sat him in the second half because he reaggravated his knee injury.