Bucs huge receiver Chris Godwin was on the group’s first OTA follow on Tuesday – for a couple of minutes. Then, Tampa Bay’s $20 million receiver went again inside for extra remedy on his surgically-repaired knee.
Godwin was on the group’s facility to proceed his rehab from the torn ACL and MCL that he suffered in Week 15 towards New Orleans. As a result of that harm occurred so late within the season – on Dec. 19 – Godwin is probably not prepared by the beginning of coaching camp.
And there’s no assure that he can be out there for the start of the common season on Sept. 11 in Dallas, both.
“When he’s able to go, he’s able to go,” Bucs head coach Todd Bowles mentioned on Tuesday. “We don’t put a timetable on it.”
When requested if Godwin had reached any milestones in his comeback rehab to date, Bowles mentioned: “No – he’ll attain the milestone when he will get again on the sphere.”
So, who will play the ever-important slot receiver position within the Bucs offense if Godwin isn’t able to go?
Johnson’s Effectiveness Dipped In 2021
Final yr, it was Tyler Johnson, who was in his second season with the Bucs. After a promising rookie season by which he caught 12 passes for 149 yards (14.1 avg.) and two touchdowns, the previous fourth-round choose’s effectiveness decreased regardless of extra manufacturing. Johnson caught 36 passes for 360 yards, however solely averaged 10 yards per catch and didn’t rating a landing.
Johnson lined up huge on 245 performs and performed 162 snaps within the slot final yr, in response to Professional Soccer Focus. When Godwin was misplaced for the season to a knee harm towards New Orleans, Johnson basically took over because the slot receiver.
He performed 27 snaps within the slot and 24 huge towards the Saints. The following week at Carolina, he logged 13 reps inside and 11 exterior. In New York the next week, Johnson had 26 slot snaps and simply 11 exterior. It was practically the identical within the season finale towards the Panthers, with 24 performs within the slot and 11 out huge. That pattern continued within the playoffs, the place Johnson was the first slot receiver with 47 performs inside and simply 22 exterior.
The issue is that Johnson’s ineffectiveness continued within the postseason. He caught a mixed 5 passes for 45 yards (9.0 avg.) towards the Eagles and Rams earlier than exiting the ultimate playoff sport late with an harm.
Gage Can Play Inside And Outdoors
Missing Godwin’s pace and skill to separate, Johnson struggled in getting open and getting yards after the catch when he did. That was one of many the explanation why Tampa Bay signed Atlanta’s Russell Gage in free company. Gage signed a three-year, $30 million take care of the Bucs the place he’s anticipated to play each inside and out of doors receiver.
Gage lined up huge for 339 snaps and within the slot for 266 snaps final yr for Atlanta. But, on the Falcons’ passing performs it was nearer to 50-50. Gage performed 202 reps within the slot and was out huge on 203 performs.
Gage is coming off back-to-back 700-yard seasons with the Falcons. He caught 66 passes for 770 yards (11.7 avg.) and 4 touchdowns final yr in 14 video games (9 begins). Since 2018, Gage has caught 48 passes for 484 yards (10.1 avg.) and two touchdowns towards the Bucs. He had 11 catches for 130 yards in Atlanta’s 30-17 loss at house to Tampa Bay final yr.
“I believe he’s the proper slot for our system, being at that receiver place,” Bucs security Antoine Winfield Jr. mentioned. “Taking part in towards him, he’s robust in there, so I believe we’re going to make the most of him simply tremendous in that space. He’s sensible, he has good routes, he’s shifty – I like his sport quite a bit.”
With 4.42 pace, Gage is quicker than Johnson. So, there’s a risk of extra huge performs from the slot with him taking part in inside. Gage was not at Tuesday’s OTA. So, we didn’t get an opportunity to see the place the Bucs plan on lining up him. However taking part in slot receiver will definitely be on his plate when he does present up.
Godwin is such an efficient blocker within the Bucs’ inside run sport. The explanation why Johnson performed within the slot final yr down the stretch was as a result of his dimension. At 6-foot-2, 200 kilos, Johnson was probably the most logical substitute from a dimension standpoint. However regardless of his dimension, he didn’t present the punch within the floor sport the Bucs had been on the lookout for.
Gage Brings Toughness Regardless of Lack Of Ideally suited Measurement
Gage is smaller at 6-foot, 184 kilos, however could be very sturdy and aggressive for his dimension. He was primarily a gunner on particular groups at LSU, the place he solely had 26 receptions for 347 yards (13.3 avg.) and 4 touchdowns in his profession. And 21 of these catches got here as a senior. Gage additionally confirmed his toughness, with 28 carries for 232 yards (8.3 avg.) and one landing in 2017.
This was Gage’s scouting evaluation on NFL.com when he entered the 2018 NFL Draft.
Whereas Gage might lack the elite dimension or manufacturing of a draftable huge receiver, he does possess the athletic means and aggressive nature to be thought-about as a diamond within the tough on Day 3. Gage has the pace, toughness, and instincts on each punt and kick protection to create some buzz within the buildings from particular groups coaches through the run-up course of to the draft. Gage’s particular groups expertise may land him on the roster, however he has some uncooked pure means as a slot receiver which will bear fruit sooner or later.
Plus athlete with unfastened hips, mild ft, and a plus burst. Energetic, extremely aggressive, and fearless. Likes to play the sport and cherishes his position as a particular groups ace. Kick cowl specialist with a gunner background on punt group. Completed his profession with 17 particular groups tackles. Ornery open subject runner on jet sweeps Hurdled tackler towards Alabama, Auburn, and Florida. Has a second gear in his engine. Performs with coronary heart.
When Godwin is wholesome sufficient to take the sphere, he’ll resume his position as Tampa Bay’s slot receiver. However till then, Gage is predicted to fill that position and be a quick and ferocious substitute inside. When Godwin does return to the lineup, Gage will transfer exterior to the Z receiver (flanker) position beforehand occupied by Antonio Brown.