There is very little reason to believe Mike Evans will slow down after his third consecutive 1,000-yard season and his second 12-score campaign. The arrival of DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard in Tampa Bay shouldn't hurt him much -- if anything, they will force opponents from double-teaming Evans! Now maybe their arrivals will mean a dip in targets for Evans, but it should open him up for better efficiency after he caught just 55.5 percent of his targets last year. It'll also help him out in the red zone, where he's caught 15 of 27 career scores. Another year with 1,300 yards and nine or 10 scores should be in the offing. Evans will be a first-round pick in all formats, likely right after Odell Beckham.
Evans stood out in Tuesday's joint practice with the Jaguars, making plays in both individual and team drills, Joe Kania of the team's official site reports. The towering receiver was dominant in essentially every aspect of the session, hauling in two touchdowns during one-on-one drills against Tyler Patmon and Dwayne Thomas. He then kicked off team drills with back-to-back receptions later in the session. Considering he also turned in an impressive performance in the preseason opener against the Bengals last Friday, Evans looks primed for yet another prolific campaign.
Evans secured four of seven targets for 58 yards in Friday's 23-12 preseason loss to the Bengals. Evans wasted no time getting his 2017 campaign going, hauling in a tough 29-yard throw from Jameis Winston down the right sideline on the opening drive of the game and notching two other receptions during the possession. The 23-year-old was also notably targeted on back-to-back passes in the end zone later in the drive before the Bucs settled for a field goal. While fellow starter DeSean Jackson didn't come close to matching Evans' numbers, his presence likely played a part in freeing up the latter from the suffocating coverages he often saw last season. Evans will look to replicate or exceed his impressive debut in next Thursday's tilt versus the Jaguars.
Evans caught nearly everything thrown his way during the first practice of training camp Friday, Joe Kania of the team's official site reports. The fourth-year receiver got matters started on the right foot in the first session of official prep for the 2017 campaign. Evans made a particularly impressive grab between defenders on seven-on-seven work after also having brought in back-to-back throws to kick off that particular session. Even with the heralded arrival of the speedy DeSean Jackson, Evans' size, hands and rapport with Jameis Winston are likely to once again make him the team's most heavily targeted pass catcher in the coming season.
Evans participated in Thursday's OTA after being absent all of last week, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com reports. It's another encouraging development for a Bucs offense that's already receiving plenty of hype this offseason. Evans and DeSean Jackson should have plenty of opportunity to build their chemistry with Jameis Winston in training camp and preseason, although Jackson was notably absent from Thursday's session.
Evans is looking to be a more vocal leader entering his fourth season, particularly in the wake of veteran Vincent Jackson's (knee) departure, Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times reports. The Bucs' No. 1 wideout will be joined in the starting lineup by veteran DeSean Jackson this season, but entering his fourth season in Tampa, it's Evans who feels the duty of assuming a more overt leadership role in the receiving corps. In addition to Vincent Jackson (knee), valued locker room figures Louis Murphy (knee), Cecil Shorts (knee), and Russell Shepard have also departed since midseason last year, making Evans one of the elder statesmen of the incumbent group. The towering pass catcher sees himself in a similar position to Jameis Winston, who was much more of an assertive presence within the offense in just his second season last year. One of the most definitive paths to being perceived as a true leader is to continue churning out Pro Bowl-caliber seasons the likes of 2016, when Evans tallied a career-best 96 catches for 1,321 yards and 12 touchdowns.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|4||10/01||New York Giants||13||21.29|
|5||10/06||New England Patriots||7||19.74|
|9||11/05||@New Orleans Saints||29||24.75|
|10||11/12||New York Jets||19||22.75|
|13||12/03||@Green Bay Packers||33||29.11|
|17||12/31||New Orleans Saints||29||24.75|
|3 Year Avg||149||79||1193||9||63||15.10||175|