Wideout Russell Gage among 3 Bucs back at practice

Notes | Mike Evans returns to the field where he caught his first NFL touchdown pass. Also, Tom Brady thinks Evans would be the best pickleball player in the locker room.
Wide receiver Russell Gage didn't practice Wednesday, but he returned on a limited basis Thursday.
Wide receiver Russell Gage didn't practice Wednesday, but he returned on a limited basis Thursday. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Oct. 13, 2022|Updated Oct. 15, 2022

TAMPA — Wide receiver Russell Gage was one of three Bucs players who returned to practice Thursday after missing Wednesday’s session, joining outside linebacker Carl Nassib and receiver Jaelon Darden.

Gage (ankle) was a limited participant, while Nassib (illness) and Darden (tooth) practiced fully ahead of the Bucs’ game against the Steelers on Sunday.

Defensive lineman Akiem Hicks (foot), wide receiver Julio Jones (knee), cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting (quad) and safety Logan Ryan (foot) didn’t practice for the second consecutive day, while receiver Chris Godwin (rest) also didn’t practice following a limited session Wednesday. Hicks, Jones and Ryan all missed last weekend’s game against the Falcons, while Murphy-Bunting exited early.

In a positive development, tight end Cameron Brate — out last game due to a concussion he sustained Oct. 2 — participated fully for the second consecutive day, as did cornerback Carlton Davis (hip). Safety Mike Edwards (elbow), who left Sunday’s game against the Falcons along with Davis and Murphy-Bunting, logged another limited session. He was wearing an elbow brace during the portion of practice open to the media.

Defensive lineman William Gholston was an addition to the injury report because of a rest day. Offensive tackle Donovan Smith (elbow) was a limited participant, while wideout Breshad Perriman (knee/hamstring) — inactive for the last two games — practiced fully again.

Evans returns to a special place

When Mike Evans last played in Pittsburgh, he was a rookie wideout who caught his first NFL touchdown pass.

Early in the first quarter of that Sept. 28, 2014, game, Evans ran a route into the end zone from the 7-yard line and came down with the ball. The Bucs earned one of their only two victories of the season that day.

The venue is no longer called Heinz Field — it’s now Acrisure Stadium. And Mike Glennon won’t his quarterback. But it’ll be a special trip for Evans, now the Bucs’ all-time leader for touchdown receptions and total yards from scrimmage.

“(The field) is one of my favorite places that I’ve gotten to play since I’ve been in the league,” Evans said.

Evans said he also enjoyed playing against former Steelers Troy Polamalu and James Harrison in that game. Polamalu even looked out for Evans after the receiver strained his groin and was later blocked by a Pittsburgh defender during an interception return.

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“I was trying to get out of the way — (Pittsburgh’s Cortez Allen) was already past me — and I think Mike Mitchell was blocking me or something while I was strained up, and I was just trying to stiff-arm, like, get him off me,” Evans said. “And then Polamalu was like, ‘Hey, he’s hurt. Let him go.’ … Troy’s a real nice guy.”

Brady predicts a future pickleball star

Major League Pickleball announced Wednesday that Bucs quarterback Tom Brady is part of an ownership group for an expansion team debuting in 2023. Asked which Buc would be best at the sport, Brady chose one of his favorite targets.

“(Evans) would be really good with that length, power,” Brady said. “The good players — it’s really a finesse sport, so not a lot of finesse guys in the locker room. We got, like, a bunch of bulldogs in there, so I’d say Mike.”

Brady, who said he’s “decent” at pickleball for a 45-year-old with “average athleticism,” added that former Bucs tight end Rob Gronkowski would be good at the sport, too.

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