Russell Gage

Injury Rumors: Hyde, Gage

Bills safety Micah Hyde was initially thought to be out for the year after suffering a neck injury in only the second week of this season. A glimmer of hope appeared in late November when a neck surgery allowed Hyde the relief needed to return to active participation with the team. The good news came to a head when Buffalo designated their veteran safety to return from injured reserve a little over a week ago.

Not taking anything away from what the good news means for Hyde and his eventual return to the field, the Bills are remaining cautious and patient with Hyde this season. He was ruled out before last week’s matchup against the division rival Dolphins and ruled out for the divisional round a week in advance, according to ESPN’s Alaina Getzenberg.

Head coach Sean McDermott spoke on Hyde’s situation, saying, “After (the divisional round), I don’t know. It’s kind of one of those things like, wake me up when…tap me on the shoulder when he’s ready.”

Here’s another rumor, this one concerning an injury that occurred on Monday:

  • Buccaneers wide receiver Russell Gage encountered a scare when he exited Monday night’s loss to the Cowboys on a stretcher after taking a scary hit to the head and neck area. Tampa Bay’s official Twitter account released a statement explaining that Gage suffered a neck injury and a concussion and was taken to a hospital for an overnight stay where he received additional testing and observation. Head coach Todd Bowles told the media that Gage was released from the hospital the next day, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. Bowles divulged that Gage avoided serious injury in his neck and that “he has all his extremities moving.”

Buccaneers Designate RB Giovani Bernard For Return

The Buccaneers offense could soon be getting some reinforcement. The team announced that they’ve designated running back Giovani Bernard to return from injured reserve. The Buccaneers now have three weeks to activate the running back to their active roster.

Bernard landed on injured reserve in September after suffering an ankle injury in Week 2. In his one-plus games this season, the 30-year-old exclusively played on special teams, including one kickoff return.

The RB hasn’t played a significant offensive role since joining the Buccaneers in 2021, as he finished his first season in Tampa Bay with only 181 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns on 31 touches. However, he’s only two years removed from a 2020 campaign that saw him finish with 771 yards from scrimmage. Leonard Fournette suffered a hip injury last week, but thanks to a Week 11 bye week, he should be good to go on Sunday. Rachaad White had a career day while filling in for Fournette, finishing with 105 rushing yards on 22 carries. Bernard made a name for himself as a pass-catcher in Cincinnati, and if Leonard’s hip injury lingers, the veteran could end up seeing more offensive snaps.

The Buccaneers got some more good injury news today, as guard Luke Goedeke and wideout Russell Gage returned to practice, per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (on Twitter). Gage has missed a month with a hamstring injury, and with the offseason acquisition now back on the field, Tom Brady will have a full grouping of wideouts heading into the final stretch of the season. Goedeke’s foot injury forced him to miss a chunk of time, and the veteran has since been jumped in the starting lineup by Nick Leverett.

Meanwhile, while safety Logan Ryan has been working out with the team, he still hasn’t been activated from injured reserve. The veteran defensive back’s foot surgery landed him on IR back in October.

Latest On Buccaneers Injuries

The Buccaneers are still dealing with their fair share of injuries, but the team could soon be welcoming back some key players. According to ESPN’s Jenna Laine, defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, cornerback Carlton Davis II, and cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting all practiced this week, a strong indication that they’re ready to return from their respective injuries.

Hicks has been sidelined since Week 2 while nursing a foot injury. The veteran defensive lineman started 77 games during his six seasons in Chicago before joining the Buccaneers this past offseason. He started each of Tampa’s first two games, collecting five total tackles. His return to the lineup will surely help a defensive line that has struggled against the run.

“It helps because it puts everybody back in their roles,” coach Todd Bowles said. “It puts everybody back in their roles and they can get the amount of time and play how they’re used to playing, and it helps us up front because it gives us a dimension we haven’t had over there.”

Davis had missed the past two games after aggravating a hip injury in Week 6. The 25-year-old started each of the Buccaneers’ first six games, collecting 31 tackles and four passes defended. Murphy-Bunting suffered a squad injury in Week 5 that forced him to miss a handful of games.

Of course, as mentioned, Tampa Bay still has a crowded injury list. Pro Bowl defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr. will be out tomorrow against the Rams, as will tight end Cameron Brate, left guard Luke Goedeke, and wide receiver Russell Gage.

Buccaneers To Add WR Russell Gage

Despite rostering Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, the Buccaneers have agreed to terms with Russell Gage. The ex-Falcons wideout will join the Bucs’ deep receiving stable, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

It’s a three-year deal worth $30MM, according to Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com (on Twitter). The deal contains $20MM in guaranteed money.

Coming off back-to-back 700-yard seasons, Gage looks set to step into Tampa Bay’s WR3 role — one vacated by Antonio Brown — behind the two Pro Bowlers. This move arms the Bucs with a proven complementary weapon while further depleting a Falcons receiving corps that has seen its crew decimated over the past several months.

Since June 2021, the Falcons have seen their Gage-Julio JonesCalvin Ridley trio gutted by the Jones trade, Ridley’s in-season exit and subsequent gambling suspension and now this impending transaction. Atlanta has some critical work to do at the receiver position this offseason. Gage’s 770 receiving yards — in just 14 games — were by far the most among Falcons wideouts last season.

The Bucs used their franchise tag on Godwin for the second straight year, keeping their younger Pro Bowl receiver in the fold for Tom Brady‘s third season with the team. While Brady famously advocated for Brown, constant turmoil notwithstanding, the mercurial standout burned the Bucs for that faith late last season. Gage is now set to step into a much higher-profile NFC South role.

Falcons’ Calvin Ridley To Miss Week 5

Calvin Ridley will not make the trip with his Falcons teammates to London. The Falcons have ruled out their top wide receiver in Week 5 due to a personal matter.

This certainly represents a blow to a passing attack that will also be without Russell Gage, who will join Ridley in staying home for the Falcons’ London game. Gage is battling an ankle injury that forced him to miss the past two games. The fourth-year wideout remains on Atlanta’s active roster.

Ridley became Atlanta’s unquestioned No. 1 wideout this summer, when the Falcons sent Julio Jones to the Titans, and has 27 receptions for 255 yards and a touchdown this season. The Falcons picked up Ridley’s fifth-year option earlier this year. With Jones out of the picture, a Ridley extension would appear imminent in 2022.

Though Kyle Pitts‘ presence will become even more pivotal, the Falcons will be down to a skeleton crew at receiver against the Jets. They have the likes of Olamide Zaccheaus, a third-year UDFA, and Tajae Sharpe in the fold. Atlanta, however, has also done well to coax quality run- and pass-game work from Cordarrelle Patterson, who leads the team with 354 scrimmage yards and five touchdowns.

NFC South Notes: Falcons, Anderson, Saints

The Falcons were interested in trading up during Round 1 for Alabama defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne, per Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com. However, the Redskins taking him at No. 13 made the Falcons change their plan. They stood pat and drafted Payne Crimson Tide teammate Calvin Ridley, doing so despite having Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu in the fold. Pauline notes the Falcons passed on Florida defensive tackle Taven Bryan — the Jaguars’ pick at No. 29 — because they weren’t particularly enamored with the former Gator’s game. Atlanta has Grady Jarrett and Jack Crawford stationed in the middle of its defensive front, and the team used a third-round pick to help out at this spot in taking South Florida interior defender Deadrin Senat.

Here’s the latest from the NFC South:

  • C.J. Anderson‘s Panthers deal will be worth around $1.7MM this season, with Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer adding that $800K in incentives are available to the longtime Broncos starter. This comes after the Broncos released Anderson well over a month into free agency. The 27-year-old running back would have made $4.5MM in 2018 on his previous contract, one the Dolphins originally designed and one the Broncos shed free of any dead-money charges.
  • While it’s only rookie minicamp, the Falcons had former LSU wide receiver Russell Gage playing cornerback on Day 1, Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com tweets. Gage played wide receiver during his final two years at LSU but as a sophomore worked exclusively at cornerback. He did so as a freshman as well but didn’t see much action playing defense in college. He managed to be a sixth-round wide receiver pick despite finishing his college career with just 28 receptions, so the Falcons — who traded up to get Gage — may have a firm plan for the rookie.
  • Sharrod Neasman saw action in 14 games for the Falcons from 2016-17, but he’s working out with the Saints during their rookie camp this weekend, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. A 26-year-old safety and a former UDFA, Neasman drew interest from the Saints in the past. Pelissero notes New Orleans tried to sign him off Atlanta’s practice squad. Neasman worked out for the Chiefs recently as well.

Draft Pick Signings: 5/9/18

Today’s draft pick signings:

  • The Falcons have agreed to terms with second-round cornerback Isaiah Oliver, fourth-round running back Ito Smith, sixth-round receiver Russell Gage, and sixth-round linebacker Foyesade Olukom. That leaves Atlanta with just two remaining unsigned draft picks, first-round wideout Calvin Ridley and third-round defensive tackle Deadrin Senat. None of the four selections signed by the Falcons today figure to have much of a 2018 role, but given the strength of Atlanta’s roster, the club was able to target future value. Oliver fits the Falcons’ size requirements for a defensive back and could help out down the line, while Smith is a hedge against Atlanta failing to sign Tevin Coleman, who will become a free agent at season’s end.
  • Fifth-round offensive lineman Tyrell Crosby has signed his rookie deal with the Lions. Crosby surprisingly fell to Day 3 of the draft after many analysts pegged him as at least a Day 2 selection. Although he played tackle at Oregon, Crosby could shift to guard in Detroit, especially given the presence of incumbent tackles Taylor Decker and Ricky Wagner. Crosby may compete to start at left guard, but with Graham Glasgow likely locking down that position, Crosby is probably looking at reserve duty for 2018.
  • The Steelers have inked their first rookie to a contract, as fifth-round rookie running back Jaylen Samuels is now signed. Samuels, a North Carolian State product, was something of a jack-of-all-trades during his collegiate days, and it won’t be surprising if he sees action at fullback, tight end, or receiver during his rookie season in Pittsburgh. Long-term, Samuels could be a candidate to replace Le’Veon Bell, who will once again play under the franchise tag in 2018.
  • Fifth-round wideout Justin Watson has singed his rookie pact with the Buccaneers, tweets Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. Watson posted excellent athletic testing results and put up outstanding production at Pennsylvania, but he’s coming from a small school and Lance Zierlein of NFL.com says Watson “doesn’t move with desired suddenness.” Watson likely won’t factor into Tampa Bay’s offense this season, but could carve out a role on special teams.
  • The Patriots didn’t land a first-round quarterback as many had projected, but they did pick LSU signal-caller Danny Etling in the seventh round, and he’s now under contract. New England doesn’t figure to keep three quarterbacks on its roster, so Etling will likely (at best) spend the 2018 season on the club’s practice squad. It’s possible he’s just a camp arm.