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Falcons News: Arthur Smith Teases New Role for Russell Gage

Devon Platana
Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith teases a new role for wideout Russell Gage next season.
Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith teases a new role for wideout Russell Gage next season. / Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

After going 4-12 in 2020, the Atlanta Falcons are looking to bounce back in the 2021 NFL season. Things will be a bit more difficult after trading away seven-time Pro-Bowl wide receiver Julio Jones. Fortunately, the team did select tight end Kyle Pitts with the No. 5 pick at the draft, so he should see some of Jones' targets. However, one player that the Falcons hope to step up is wideout Russell Gage.

A sixth-round pick in 2019, Gage has primarily worked as a slot receiver in the Falcons' offense. That could all change next season as head coach Arthur Smith teases that he wants to see just how much Gage can handle on offense before locking him into a certain spot.

Atlanta Falcons News

While Gage was one of the better slot receivers last season, Smith said on Friday that he likes pushing his more skilled players to see what they're capable of.

"Russell has done a nice job in the slot, but we’ve moved Russell all over the place. Then we’ve got to make decisions as we get closer to the season."

Arthur Smith, Falcons HC

Smith added that he could see Gage "playing multiple spots" next season. Hearing that from a coach would be a confidence boost for any athlete and, hopefully, Gage can take advantage of his new opportunity. He'll need to capitalize on a career-best year he had in 2020 that saw him haul in 72 receptions for 786 yards and 4 touchdowns. Quarterbacks who targeted Gage had a 95.6 passer rating — the highest of his career yet — which shows that he's gaining trust from both QB Matt Ryan and the coaching staff.

If the Falcons want to return to the playoffs next season, they're going to need a massive performance from Gage and the rest of the team's offense. FanDuel Sportsbook is currently favoring Atlanta to miss next year's postseason at -250 odds.

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