Injury Update: Tampa Bucs’ WR Russell Gage Out for the Season Due to Knee Injury

Published: August 17, 2023, 08:50h.

Last updated: August 17, 2023, 08:50h.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are concerned about the season-ending injury suffered by wide receiver Russell Gage during practice. Gage injured his knee during a non-contact incident, and initial reports suggest his absence may be prolonged.

Russell Gage Bucs
Tampa Bay Bucs wide receiver Russell Gage, seen here in training camp last week, sustained a potential season-ending knee injury in practice. (Image: Getty)

The injury occurred during a joint practice with the New York Jets, where Gage was participating in a 7-on-7 drill. Witnesses reported that Gage appeared visibly upset as he was taken off the field for further evaluation.

“It was a pretty serious injury,” said Bucs head coach Todd Bowles. “Our thoughts are with Russ as he undergoes treatment. Based on his reaction, it seems to be a significant issue. We wish him a swift recovery.”

This is not the first time Gage has faced injury concerns. In the previous postseason, he suffered a concussion and neck injury during a playoff game, potentially ruling him out for the remainder of the playoffs had the Bucs advanced further.

Despite these setbacks, Gage worked to regain full health during the offseason and was expected to be a key contributor in the upcoming season.

Bucs Wide Receiver Group: Star Power with Depth Questions

In the 2022 season, the Bucs boasted one of the most formidable wide receiver trios, featuring Gage, Mike Evans, and Chris Godwin. While the trio returned for the current season, the team faced concerns about their depth due to the presence of less-experienced players.

Gage showcased his skills throughout the previous season, catching 51 passes for 426 yards and five touchdowns in 13 games. Despite missing four games, he ranked second on the team in receiving touchdowns.

After dealing with injuries last season, Gage accepted a reduced salary for this season to continue with the Bucs.

Evans and Godwin both exceeded 1,000 receiving yards in 2022, and the pair combined for nine touchdowns. With quarterback Tom Brady’s preference for checkdowns, running back Leonard Fournette also played a significant role in passing plays, adding 73 receptions and three touchdowns. However, Fournette has since left the team, leaving a void as the primary outlet for the new quarterback.

To address the potential absence of Gage, the Bucs signed David Moore during the offseason. Moore, who previously played for the Seattle Seahawks, has a strong touchdown record and is likely to step up in the rotation.

Deven Thompkins, who saw limited action last season, is expected to secure a roster spot primarily due to his contributions as a kick returner in special teams.

Additionally, the Bucs have three rookie wide receivers in their training camp: Trey Palmer, Rakim Jarrett, and Kaylon Geiger. While Palmer could also contribute as a kick returner, Jarrett remains undrafted but has a chance to impress coaches and secure a place on the team.

Bucs Quarterback Battle: Mayfield vs. Trask

Kyle Trask and Baker Mayfield are competing for the starting quarterback position. The Bucs have yet to announce Brady’s successor following his retirement in the offseason.

Trask, who was chosen in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, did not receive significant playing time while Brady was still on the team. Though he performed well at the start of training camp, Trask struggled in the first preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, completing only 60% of his passes and throwing one interception.

On the other hand, Mayfield has outperformed Trask so far and is considered the frontrunner to start in Week 1. Against the Steelers, Mayfield completed 80% of his passes, throwing one touchdown and no interceptions.

Mayfield aims to revive his career with the Bucs and does not mind the competition with Trask for the starting position.

“When the quarterback room is having success, it shows what this offense can be capable of,” said Mayfield. “We’re distributors within this system, and people are starting to see what we’re going to be capable of. It’s slowly coming together.”

Mayfield, a former number one overall pick and Heisman Trophy winner, struggled to meet expectations with the Cleveland Browns. The Browns ultimately traded Mayfield to the Carolina Panthers last offseason as part of their pursuit of Deshaun Watson.

Released by the Panthers in December, Mayfield joined the Los Angeles Rams for a short stint following Matthew Stafford’s injury. He made an immediate impact by leading the Rams to a remarkable comeback victory against the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday Night Football, proving doubters that he still belongs in the NFL.

Betting on the Buccaneers Post-Brady

Considered the weakest division in the NFL last season, the NFC South is now wide open following Brady’s retirement and his new role as a minority owner of the Las Vegas Raiders. The New Orleans Saints are the favored team to win the NFC South with +120 odds. They are followed by the Atlanta Falcons (+215), Carolina Panthers (+450), and the Bucs (+800).

Although the Saints have signed veteran quarterback Derek Carr, they face concerns about their running back depth due to injuries and Alvin Kamara’s suspension.

The Falcons are undergoing a rebuilding phase with second-year quarterback Desmond Ridder at the helm.

Under the guidance of new head coach Frank Reich, the Panthers made an aggressive trade with the Chicago Bears to secure the first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. With their selection, they chose quarterback Bryce Young from Alabama.

According to sportsbook projections, the Bucs have a win total of 6.5 over/under, the lowest in their division. The Saints have the highest win total projection at 9.5 over/under, followed by the Falcons at 8.5 over/under, and the Panthers at 7.5 over/under.

Regarding postseason potential, the Bucs have +400 odds to make the playoffs according to DraftKings. However, they are considered favorites to miss the playoffs with -500 odds.

On the NFL futures board, the Bucs have longshot odds of +9000 to win Super Bowl LVIII and +4500 to win the NFC Championship.

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