The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been cautiously optimistic that star wide receiver Mike Evans will be able to play in their Wild Card matchup against the Washington Football Team. Newly released video footage of Evans testing out his knee during the Bucs’ January 7th practice should have Tampa Bay fans feeling even more optimistic. The video below shows Evans running during practice, a promising sign with kickoff still days away.
— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) January 7, 2021
ESPN’s Jenna Laine posted close-up footage of Evans moving laterally in addition to jogging.
Here’s a look at Mike Evans (No. 13) practicing today. At times, it’s obstructed, but you can see him going through a dynamic warmup stretching his hamstrings, squatting, jogging and doing karaoke (that’s where they criss-cross their feet very quickly moving sideways). pic.twitter.com/WhMxhMut0W
— JennaLaineESPN (@JennaLaineESPN) January 7, 2021
Earlier in the week, Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians revealed Evans is dealing with a hyper-extended knee. Evans sustained the injury after awkwardly slipping in the endzone early in the team’s regular season finale against the Falcons.
“The MRI showed no structural damage,” Arians said, per USA Today. “It was a hyperextension. I saw him in the training room a little while ago – there’s very, very little swelling and he’ll be day-to-day.”
Brady on Evans: ‘I Love Playing With the Guy’
The Buccaneers have an embarrassment of riches at wide receiver with plenty of playmakers that can step up in Evans’ place if needed. Despite the depth, replacing a Pro Bowl receiver is still difficult but all indications are Evans will suit up against Washington barring a late setback. After Evans suffered the knee injury, Tom Brady discussed what the receiver brings to the team.
“It’s always tough when you see guys go out,” Brady explained, per ESPN. “[I’m] proud of him for everything he’s gone through this year and what he’s fought through. It’s an incredible record to have. Toughness, dependability, not obviously [only] skill, but attitude plays a big factor into those things. I just love playing with the guy, so when he went out, other guys really stepped up and made a bunch of plays.”
Arians on Washington: ‘We’re Playing That 4-1 Team, Not That 7-9 Team’
Despite Evans’ uncertainty, the Buccaneers are sizable road favorites against Washington. The Bucs are 8.5-point favorites over the NFC East champions, the second-highest spread of Wild Card Weekend behind the Saints-Bears matchup. Arians is not buying what Vegas is selling as the Bucs coach believes Washington is a different team with Alex Smith as the starting quarterback.
“They’ve got a lot to lose,” Arians explained, per Buccaneers.com. “We don’t see them as a 7-9 team, we see them as a 4-1 team because every time Alex Smith has played, they went 4-1 and had a plus-three turnover margin. It’s a different team when Alex is playing and we know that. We’re playing that 4-1 team, not that 7-9 team.”
The Bucs could be playing on a slick field in Washington, but Arians noted this would not have an impact on Evans’ status for the playoff game. Arians joked he would have to “fight Mike” if he tried to prevent him from playing against his will.
“No, not really. You’re gonna play on whatever field they put you on,” Arians responded, per Tampa’s 98 Rock FM. “You’d have to fight Mike. If he can go, he don’t give a crap about the field.”