The Tampa Bay Buccaneers appear to be getting a major boost to their offense in time for Sunday’s NFC West showdown with the New Orleans Saints, as the team announced star wide receiver Mike Evans (hamstring) had his injury designation upgraded from doubtful to questionable after Saturday’s practice. The Buccaneers initially listed Evans as doubtful after he went through the individual portion of practice Friday, catching passes on the side. Saturday’s practice was closed to the media. 

Even with the upgraded injury designation, Evan is still a game-time decision for Sunday’s game, as Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians reiterated Friday. Arians also said he didn’t believe Evans’ hamstring injury was the same one that limited him last season, causing him to miss three games. Evans still finished with 67 catches for 1,157 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging 17.3 yards per catch. 

Tampa Bay experienced a high amount of hamstring injuries toward the end of last season, with Evans being the centerpiece of the calamity. Arians blamed overworking the players in his first season as head coach as a result of all the hamstring injuries, which isn’t the case regarding Evans’ injury ahead of the season opener. 

“When you look back at all the data that we had, we overworked our receivers some in September and October,” Arians admitted. “That maybe had led to those, so we really have cut back in those areas. There’s still going to be soft-tissue injuries that are just freaky. Mike [Evans] was more of a twist on a route and it was a real minor one, but it’s still bugging him.”

The Buccaneers will be dealt a huge blow if Evans can’t play. Evans eclipsed 1,000-plus receiving yards in each of his first six NFL seasons, joining Randy Moss as the only players in league history to accomplish the feat. His 15.7 yards per catch is third among active players with a minimum of 250 receptions. Evans has averaged 17.52 yards per catch in the NFL over the past two seasons, first among all players that have recorded 100-plus catches. His 48 touchdown catches are the third most in the NFL since he entered the league in 2014. 

Evans is the Buccaneers’ all-time leader in receptions (462), yards (7,260), receiving touchdowns (48), multi-touchdown games (9), 100-yard receiving games (24), and 150-yard receiving games (9).

If the Buccaneers’ top wideout can’t go, Tampa still has Chris Godwin and Scotty Miller as the starting receivers. The Buccaneers also could run a significant package of “12” and “13” personnel with tight ends O.J. Howard, Rob Gronkowski, and Cameron Brate to compensate the absence of Evans. 

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