|Titans' biggest receiver becoming good target for Young|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 15 November 2007 13:39|
Coach Jeff Fischer said he already moved on to thinking about the next play. Quarterback Vince Young looked away before Gage tipped the ball up and pulled it in.
``It's all about focusing on the ball and staying with it,'' Gage said after making the acrobatic catch Sunday, the Titans' first TD reception since Sept. 24
Gage may have been the Tennessee Titans' quietest acquisition this offseason. Now he's showing exactly why they signed the 6-foot-4, 212-pound receiver away from the Chicago Bears. He is coming off his best game with Tennessee - seven catches for 90 yards.
And yes, coach Fisher did take notice.
``He's really come on,'' Fisher said Thursday. ``He's making the tough catches, and he's making big plays for us now. So it's good to see it, and I hope that it continues.
The seven catches tied Gage's career-high on Nov. 20, 2005, against Carolina, and his 90 yards receiving were 10 short of his career-high of 100 on Nov. 30, 2003. He is a catch behind Roydell Williams and Bo Scaife with his 26 receptions. He trails only Williams with 313 yards receiving.
That's a far cry from last season when Gage had only four catches for 68 yards with Chicago, where he played in only eight games. He had 64 catches for 908 yards and four touchdowns in his four years with the Bears.
Tennessee was looking for receivers in March after letting Drew Bennett and Bobby Wade leave as free agents. Gage wanted a fresh start and signed a one-year deal with the Titans. A sore toe slowed him down in training camp, so he used that time to study the playbook.
Since his return, the tallest receiver on the roster has been working on his chemistry with Young, who learned from the fans' cheers that Gage had scored on that TD catch in last week's 28-13 loss to Jacksonville.
``There's been some strides,'' Gage said. ``The more and more we end up playing together, you can see it happen on the field. I'm catching more routes from him in practice, running routes for him and getting back to the basics.''
With Young still working to improve himself as a quarterback, that often means being able to grab a pass that might be a little low or a little high. It helps that Gage, who converted from quarterback to receiver after his freshman year at Missouri, is very athletic.
Gage also played three years on the basketball team at Missouri, averaging 2.1 points and 2.9 rebounds in 73 games, before concentrating on football. That paid off when Chicago drafted him in the fifth round in 2003.
``Catching a ball's like going for a rebound,'' Gage said. ``When you see a ball in the air, you've got to go to it like you're trying to get it as opposed to letting the ball come to you. That's something I definitely take from the basketball sense.''
His production is paying off. Fisher said they will be increasing his plays in their receiver rotation, and Gage will play more in their three-receiver package.
``We'll try to give him more opportunities to catch the ball,'' Fisher said.
And Gage will be trying to make sure he has the ball the first time, especially after all the razzing he took from position coach Fred Graves and his fellow receivers when they saw it again on film.
``I was just trying to get more receptions in one play,'' Gage joked.