Which Bucs WR Replaces Godwin If He’s Not Ready?

Bucs broad receiver Chris Godwin was on the workforce’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 workforce’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 might not be prepared by the beginning of coaching camp.

And there’s no assure that he will likely be accessible for the start of the common season on Sept. 11 in Dallas, both.

Bucs WR Chris Godwin – Photograph by: Cliff Welch/PR

“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 this point, 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 12 months, it was Tyler Johnson, who was in his second season with the Bucs. After a promising rookie season through 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 broad on 245 performs and performed 162 snaps within the slot final 12 months, in line with 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 broad towards the Saints. The following week at Carolina, he logged 13 reps inside and 11 outdoors. In New York the next week, Johnson had 26 slot snaps and simply 11 outdoors. It was almost the identical within the season finale towards the Panthers, with 24 performs within the slot and 11 out broad. That development continued within the playoffs, the place Johnson was the first slot receiver with 47 performs inside and simply 22 outdoors.

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 recreation 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 deal with the Bucs the place he’s anticipated to play each inside and outdoors receiver.

Bucs WR Tyler Johnson

Bucs WR Tyler Johnson – Photograph by: Cliff Welch/PR

Gage lined up broad for 339 snaps and within the slot for 266 snaps final 12 months for Atlanta. But, on the Falcons’ passing performs it was nearer to 50-50. Gage performed 202 reps within the slot and was out broad 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 12 months 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 residence to Tampa Bay final 12 months.

“I feel 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 feel we’re going to make the most of him simply high quality in that space. He’s good, he has good routes, he’s shifty – I like his recreation lots.”

With 4.42 pace, Gage is quicker than Johnson. So, there’s a chance of extra massive performs from the slot with him enjoying 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 enjoying slot receiver will definitely be on his plate when he does present up.

Godwin is such an efficient blocker within the Bucs’ inside run recreation. The explanation why Johnson performed within the slot final 12 months down the stretch was as a consequence of his measurement.  At 6-foot-2, 200 kilos, Johnson was essentially the most logical alternative from a measurement standpoint. However regardless of his measurement, he didn’t present the punch within the floor recreation the Bucs had been on the lookout for.

Gage Brings Toughness Regardless of Lack Of Splendid Measurement

Gage is smaller at 6-foot, 184 kilos, however may be very sturdy and aggressive for his measurement. 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.

New Bucs WR Russell Gage and S Antoine Winfield, Jr.

New Bucs WR Russell Gage and S Antoine Winfield, Jr. – Photograph by: USA At present

Whereas Gage might lack the elite measurement or manufacturing of a draftable broad receiver, he does possess the athletic capacity and aggressive nature to be thought of 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 throughout the run-up course of to the draft. Gage’s particular groups expertise might land him on the roster, however he has some uncooked pure capacity as a slot receiver that will bear fruit sooner or later.

Plus athlete with unfastened hips, gentle 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 workforce. 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 anticipated to fill that position and be a quick and ferocious alternative inside. When Godwin does return to the lineup, Gage will transfer outdoors to the Z receiver (flanker) position beforehand occupied by Antonio Brown.