USATSI

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were already set to be without stud receiver Chris Godwin (hamstring) for Thursday night’s showdown with the Chicago Bears, and they were also at risk of losing fellow wideout Mike Evans (ankle) for this matchup as well. Luckily for Tom Brady and company, Evans will in fact play in the Week 5 opener. Not only that, but Tampa Bay will also have running back Leonard Fournette for this game as well. 

That’s arguably the biggest surprise of the night when looking at the inactives for the Buccaneers as Fournette was originally listed as doubtful to play tonight due to an ankle injury that held him out of practice all well. That said, Jay Glazer of FOX Sports noted pregame that Fournette will only be used in emergency situations. Meanwhile, Evans, who also did not practice all week, was officially labeled as questionable for this game.

The receiver was looked at as a true game-time decision and pregame reports noted that Evans did some cutting pregame, likely to test out his ankles. That has seemingly gone well, paving the way for him to be active tonight. While he may not be 100%, the 27-year-old wasn’t at full strength last week either and still walked away with 122 yards receiving on seven receptions, including a six-yard touchdown grab from Brady. 

Evans will now face a Chicago secondary that ranks inside the top five in the league in efficiency, according to Football Outsiders. Through the first quarter of the 2020 season, the Bears have allowed the ninth-fewest yards through the air. That said, top-flight receivers (Calvin Ridley, 110 yards in Week 3) have been able to enjoy a strong outing against their secondary, so it’s not an impossible obstacle for Evans to hurdle even if he’s banged up. 

As for Fournette, he missed last week’s game with Los Angeles due to that ankle injury. He was entering Week 3 with the buzz of a potential breakout brewing following a Week 2 contest against Carolina where he rushed for 103 yards and two touchdowns. 

Elsewhere within the offense, Tampa Bay is also set to have fellow receiver Scotty Miller, who caught five passes for 83 yards and a touchdown last week against Los Angeles, for this matchup as well after being listed as questionable with a hip and groin injury. 

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