Bucs-Saints: Mike Evans’ Availability for Tom Brady’s Debut Revealed

Getty Wide Receiver Mike Evans will play for the Buccaneers against the Saints in Week 1.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans will suit up for the team’s Week 1 tilt against the New Orleans Saints.

Evans worked out pre-game and the Buccaneers liked what they saw from their top receiver, as Pro Football Action relays. Evan is likely to be on a “pitch count” and his matchup against top Saints cornerback Marcus Lattimore is concerning. Nevertheless, Tom Brady will have a full arsenal of weapons available for this first game as a Buccaneer.

Brady is an underdog for his Tampa Bay debut, as New Orleans is listed as a 3.5-point home favorite in many sportsbooks. While it may seem like Brady would be at a disadvantage against the Saints—a team with arguably more continuity than any in the NFL—fear not, for Brady conducted his own offseason workouts while the rest of the league was not allowed to practice.

Evans’ Status Changed Throughout the Week

Evans, who showcased an impactful connection with Brady during training camp, was the only Buccaneer player to miss practice on Wednesday. He followed that up by sitting out on Thursday. On Friday, he was on the field with his teammates but his level of involvement wasn’t clear.

The wideout was deemed doubtful on Friday. Late Saturday, he was upgraded to questionable and early on Sunday morning, it was reported that he’d end up being a game-time decision based on how he looked warming up.

Behind Evans is Chris Godwin, who made the Pro Bowl last season. Scotty Miller, who earned the trust of Brady, is the slot receiver in the offense.

Rob Gronkowski is active and healthy as he makes his Buccaneers debut. Gronk sat out the 2019 NFL season, though he caught 47 passes in 2018 with Brady in New England before an injury forced him to miss the remainder of the season. Fellow tight ends Cameron Brate and OJ Howard are both active as well.

Evans Quietly Building Hall-of-Fame Career

Evans has somewhat quietly been one of the most dominant receivers since he came into the league in 2014.

The former No. 7 overall pick has gained 1,000 in each of his first six seasons, something only Randy Moss has done, as Football Outsiders highlights in their 2020 version of the almanac. Seven-straight would be the record.

Evans’ production in 2020 will surely be tied to Brady’s. The future Hall-of-Fame quarterback is entering uncharted waters, leading a team at 43-years-old.

Brady posted his lowest touchdown total (24), touchdown rate (3.9%), and completion percentage (60.8%) of his career in 2019, something fueled by a combination of injuries around him in the New England offense, a lack of explosive weapons, and perhaps age catching up to Brady.

His efficiency over the second half of the 2019 season may seem alarming but as Bassinger notes, full-season performance is much more predictive than half-season performance. Still, there’s a ton of reasons to believe that quarterbacks, at the age of 43, simply can’t get it done: one being that there haven’t been any. No player at that age has ever surpassed even 1,000 passing yards.

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