Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans returned to practice Friday after missing Thursday before a key Week 14 game against the Minnesota Vikings.
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians said Friday in the team’s press conference that it was a scare according to Tampa Bay Times reporter Rick Stroud via Twitter.
The Athletic’s Greg Auman reported via Twitter Thursday that it could be precautionary.
Evans Key to Offense
Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians didn’t give any further update Thursday on Evans since the coach doesn’t meet with the media on Thursdays according to Auman. It left Evans’ status in doubt until Friday’s practice.
Losing Evans would have meant a weakened red zone presence for the Bucs. He has 11 catches for 56 yards and nine touchdowns in the red zone this year according to Sports Illustrated’s All Bucs.
With or without Evans, quarterback Tom Brady will still have plenty of targets to throw to on Sunday. The Bucs have Pro Bowl-caliber receivers in Antonio Brown, Chris Godwin, and tight end Rob Gronkowski. Fellow tight end Cameron Brate has made plays for Brady as have receivers Scotty Miller and rookie Tyler Johnson.
Running back Ronald Jones III has also made catches out of the backfield, including a touchdown catch in the Bucs’ last outing against the Kansas City Chiefs.
NFL Man of the Year
Evans’ on-field success and off-field service to the community earned him the Bucs’ nomination for the Walter Payton Man of the Year for a second-straight year.
“It is the utmost honor to be recognized,” Evans said according to WFLA’s Gabrielle Shirley. “I never would have thought I would be a nominee but it has been a blessing and that is how I view my life. When I was a kid, I always told myself, if I grew up to have money, I would help more people than when I did not have any money.”
Shirley noted that the Mike Evans Family Foundation, which helps children of low-income families, has been a major part of his community service. Annual events include “Catch for Christmas” to support domestic violence victims Shirley added.
Evans enters the Week 14 game on the edge of reaching a unique career record. Only six other receivers in league history have 500 receptions, 8,000 yards, and 60 touchdowns in the first seven years of their careers per Buccaneers.com.
Evans has at least 67 catches, 1,001 yards, and three touchdowns in each of his first six seasons. His career-low of three touchdowns in 2015 seemed like an anomaly with five seasons, including 2020, of eight or more touchdowns.
He had three catches for 50 yards and two touchdowns in his last game against Kansas City.