Mike Evans could play as early as Sunday, Dec. 26, at Carolina despite sustaining a hamstring injury according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The Bucs wide receiver injured a hamstring on a hit during his lone catch, a 14-yard grab, against New Orleans on Sunday, Dec. 19. Evans is considered “week to week” according to Schefter.
“Hopefully, we’ll get Mike back soon, but don’t know when,” Arians told the media on Monday, Dec. 20. “Hopefully soon.”
Earlier in the day, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Evans “should be OK” and that the injury is “nothing major.”
Evans had a strong season going with 64 receptions for 899 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Tampa Bay also lost wide receiver Chris Godwin, running back Leonard Fournette, linebacker Lavonte David, and defensive lineman Pat O’Connor to injury in Sunday’s loss. Godwin tore his ACL and will miss the rest of the season, Arians confirmed.
“The rest of the guys are still getting MRIs, and we’ll wait and see,” Arians said.
The latest Bucs news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Bucs newsletter here!
Evans has shown durability throughout his seven-year career, missing only five games due to injury per Bleacher Report.
He last missed games in 2019 due to a hamstring injury. His knee hyperextension scare in the 2020 season never sidelined him for a whole game as he helped the Bucs win Super Bowl LV.
Evans’ availability becomes all the more important with Godwin done for the season. Godwin had a career year going with 98 receptions for 1,103 yards and five touchdowns.
As the Bucs all-time leader in touchdowns, Evans can easily help alleviate the void left from Godwin’s injury.
Bucs’ Wide Receiver Outlook
Tampa Bay has some reinforcements coming after losing Godwin for the rest of the season.
Antonio Brown returns from a three-game suspension due to a fake COVID-19 vaccine card. Brown caught 29 passes for 418 yards and four touchdowns in five games played, all won by the Bucs.
Arians anticipates easing Brown back, which will hinge on how the receiver does at Wednesday and Thursday’s practices. Brown hasn’t played since an Oct. 14 game at Philadelphia when he injured his ankle.
“We’ll wait and … see how much he can do and hopefully we can get 30 to 35 plays out of him,” Arians said.
Tampa Bay could also get Breshad Perriman back from the reserve/COVID-19 list. Perriman missed the Saints game due to COVID-19 protocols, which generally requires a 10-day timeframe to return. Last time on the field, Perriman caught a 58-yard touchdown from quarterback Tom Brady to beat the Buffalo Bills on Dec. 12.
“We’ll wait and see. I think B.P. should have a chance to get back,” Arians said. “Don’t know when but should have a good chance, and then, we’ll start looking at all the pieces and put the game plan together.”
The Bucs have Tyler Johnson, Jaleon Darden, and Scotty Miller for now at receiver, but none of them have touchdowns this season. Practice squad receiver Cyril Grayson is the only one besides Evans, Brown, and Perriman to have scored a touchdown this season. Grayson caught a 50-yard touchdown from Brady against the Saints on Oct. 31.
Unfortunately, the Bucs didn’t have anything close to that offensively a second time around against the Saints. The Bucs will look to get back on track on Sunday, Dec. 26, at Carolina.