Bucs safety Justin Evans hasn’t been able to play the game of football in an organized setting since December of 2018. After going on injured reserved following a week 10 game against Carolina for a foot injury, Evans has had longer road back to getting healthy than expected.

The injuries on his foot ranged from his toe to his heel, and Evans eventually had some problems with his other foot as well. He still was expected to be ready by the time OTAs rolled around, but when they did, Evans was still in a walking boot and the waiting continued.

“It was just one thing after another,” Evans said. “Just this toe and this injury on my feet. I always had just some little nicks, and then over time throughout last season, throughout playing, the football wear and tear just got worse and worse. That’s what I’ve been dealing with.”

After months and months of rehab to get healthy, Evans was taken off of the PUP list on Saturday after his physical. On Sunday, he got to practice with the team for the first time this season, and it was a refreshing feeling for the third year safety.

S Justin Evans – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“It feels great to be back out there,” Evans said. “[Coming back] during OTAs was the plan but it didn’t come through. It took a little extra time, but I’m back healthy now, though.”

Constantly waiting to get back out onto the field takes a lot of patience and can be frustrating. At times, Evans felt like he would never get back to this point as a starter in the NFL because of the difficulty around overcoming his foot injury.

“I’m human,” Evans said. “I get a little down sometimes but I also know that I keep my confidence, keep my head held high, the rest is going to come out, whatever, so regardless I was always good.”

Evans’ return to practice comes at a good time with the Bucs being thin at safety with Mike Edwards being sidelined with a hamstring injury.

The first step was returning back to the field, but the work isn’t done. Next up for Evans is getting back into football shape with in game speed along with playing in a new defense.

“It’s all based on being on the field,” Evans said. “You get a feel for it, so obviously not being on the field I haven’t been getting the best work I could possibly get. But I was hurt so that’s the way it went and that’s just how it was. I’m back healthy now again.”

Evans hasn’t been a stranger to the facility during his time out, though, as you could always see him following along and watching practice even when on the sidelines in a jersey. And that’s helped him get up to date with learning the defense.

“Being out there you get accustomed to it,” Evans said.”But I’ve been real good in the meeting rooms learning all my plays, trying to stay as best conditioned as I can, but you always can’t really just stay in too much football shape unless you’re playing football so, it will come.”

While the fourth preseason isn’t the most exciting for football fans due to only the backups playing, the Bucs game on Thursday against the Cowboys could be spiced up if Evans gets a chance to play. He indicated that he would be playing in his home state of Texas, and gave no concerns about playing so soon after all that time away.

I’m good now,” Evans said. “I actually think I’m playing Thursday. I’ll play like a quarter.”

Evans has his sights set on returning and Bruce Arians is optimistic as well. But the head coach pumped the breaks just a little bit, saying he wants to see him feel good in practice before he tests it in game.

“We’ll see if it’s feasible,” Arians said. “He went through individual today, no problems, we’ll probably put him in some reps tomorrow and Tuesday and walk through Wednesday, and we’ll see how he travels. I’d love to get him in the game to start getting his eyes trained in this defense because it’s so different than when he’s played. It’s good to see him out there.”

If he can remain healthy, Evans plans to be an important fixture in the Bucs defensive plans. Arians acknowledged the magnitude of talent that Evans can bring to this team along with his in-game instinct.

Bucs S Justin Evans - Photo by: Clifff Welch/PR
Bucs S Justin Evans – Photo by: Clifff Welch/PR

“He’s a freaky athlete,” Arians said. “He’s a really really heady and smart player. You can tell on tape he gets it, he sees it, and he’s out there making all the calls all spring.”

Evans feels just the same way in terms of his excitement level for playing under Arians and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. The Bucs defense has already impressed so far in the preseason, and now he wants to add to it. Bowles relies on his safeties often in his defensive planning, so Evans is ready to get into the mix.

“I want to be a part of our defense as we call it,” Evans said. “So I definitely want to be a part of it, I want to contribute to it, for sure. Coach Bowles, he does a lot with his safeties so I’ll be doing a bunch of stuff. Bumping down, blitzing, cover-two, high safety, coming down playing strong safety. I like it a lot because I get to do a bunch of different things.”

Previous articleBucs’ Arians “Surprised” At Luck’s Retirement
Next articleBucs Monday Mailbag: Ogunbowale Pushing For Playing Time; O-Line Help Coming?

14 COMMENTS

  1. This will be a great test for J. Evans. Arians said in today’s press conference that J. Evans reads things well but he needs to do work in the new defense to make the adjustment.

    Bowles must be giddy to have a deep core of safeties to work with.

    +5
    0
    Rating: +5. From 5 votes.
    Please wait...
  2. He’s back. That’s great. I thought his foot had been amputated.

    +3
    -8
    Rating: -5. From 11 votes.
    Please wait...
  3. Great news and excited to have him back! Hoping he can use this game to knock off some rust. Hasn’t seen live action for a while. Just want to see him get some reps and get into the scheme. Not expecting big things and please everyone, don’t freak out if he give up some plays – this is a scrimmage.

    +10
    0
    Rating: +10. From 10 votes.
    Please wait...
  4. Great News. Now let’s get Vea and David back too. Our Defense is going to be great when we are healthy again.

    +11
    0
    Rating: +11. From 11 votes.
    Please wait...
  5. Anxious to see him in this defensive scheme instead of the one where he was often so far back he had no chance to be in on the action. Maybe our secondary really is “fixed”.

    +6
    0
    Rating: +6. From 6 votes.
    Please wait...
    • Scubog, I would hope so; goodness knows we used several higher tier draft picks that could have been used to also help other areas of fixing too, but that’s easy to say when looking back. I’m still concerned about our OL and the DE positions as we seem to be weak; DT’s looks good.

      +3
      0
      Rating: +3. From 3 votes.
      Please wait...
  6. I think secondary is fixed and we have enough depth if somebody doesn’t perform or gets hurt. That wasn’t the case in past the starters were even questionable let alone the backups! Safety is deeper than CB to me now. Hopefully SMB keeps developing and turns out great. Yes I too am so glad to watch a defense that actually contests balls and doesn’t play 10-15 yards off WR’s! Smith was worst DC I’ve ever seen. Even possibly worse than Lovie if that’s possible.

    The O line was my main concern going into the season and still is. Never drank the Koolaid on Cappa or Dotson being good enough on right side. Hope I’m wrong. Hope they can squeeze one more decent season out of Dot and Cappa can be coaches up to play better than that or maybe they will end up trying Watford. I assume Cappa looked better than Watford in practice this far but who knows.

    +3
    0
    Rating: +3. From 3 votes.
    Please wait...
  7. If you watched the Browns game Friday, you would realize with four nasty defensive lineman you don’t even need corners and safeties.
    Winston barely had time to look down the field before he was swallowed up by a sea of beef. Drafting great DL is always preferable to drafting cover corners and safeties.
    Licht and many ill informed readers, never seem to grasp that fact.

    +5
    0
    Rating: +5. From 5 votes.
    Please wait...
    • Which is why Licht drafted Vita Vea over Derwin James. As bad as our secondary played in 2018, while continually trying to keep it functional with cast-offs and street free agents stepping in for the injured starters, I certainly understand the rationale of loading up on the position.

      One should remember he did the same thing with the O-line with the drafting of Marpet and Smith. I’m not ready to give up on Cappa who I assumed would require time to develop. The individual on the O-line who concerns me is Big Dot. The real issue on the O-line is the back-ups. Perhaps Licht will use multiple choices to “fix” it in 2020. Some of those issues Friday were not the O-line.

      0
      0
      No votes yet.
      Please wait...
  8. drdneast, yes agree. What I saw was poor OL blocking. Yes Winston could have thrown a couple safety net passes when it was 3rd and long yardage, but none of them would have gotten them a 1st down. “No risk it, no biscuit”, remember? I don’t like it when the Coach called it right initially because he was basing it on at game speed, then he reviews in slow motion and “the blocking didn’t look so bad”. Coach here’s a tip for you as I’m older than you; first impressions is usually right, stick to it. Lets don’t get into BS world Coach. You and I both know what we saw.

    +5
    -1
    Rating: +4. From 6 votes.
    Please wait...
    • Yes – disappointed with the post game film review where BA says Jamies held the ball. Worried he’s admitting to not having an answer so trying to down play O line play.

      0
      0
      No votes yet.
      Please wait...
  9. What I feel BA meant was not that once he reviewed the tape, the ways we got beat were not so much about the Olineman just being bad, but that the ways they got beat were ways that should be simple to fix and prepare better for.

    +1
    0
    Rating: +1. From 1 vote.
    Please wait...
  10. My thinking about the kind of defensive line we need and the traditional 4-3 scheme for defense was forced to be changed by our switch to the 3-4 base under Bowles. I have spent much time this off season trying to reeducate myself and question long standing ways of thinking about defenses.

    Without going into elaborate details (which would take me hours to think out and write-up) I just want to say that my understanding is that Bowles schemes are designed to attack the kinds of offenses that most NFL teams are fielding today. Much of the changes are the result of two thing. First are NFL rule changes over the years favoring a higher scoring offensive game. Second are many newer concepts that have grown-up at the college level for many a year now and are finding their way into the NFL mainstream in recent years.

    Even with my study I will have to observe what Bowles and guys serve up for several games to really begin to understand, I think. Ronde Barber mentioned the other night that we have seen only about 5% of what Bowles will throw out there.
    ______________
    Go Bucs!!!

    0
    0
    No votes yet.
    Please wait...
  11. My good friend Horse mentioned the need for DE’s. The starting DE’s are likely to be Suh and Gholston with Vea at the nose. I believe this is the best position for big Will. Suh is probably little more than a stop gap for a year or two so I agree that will need to be addressed soon. One should realize that the edge rush is going to come from the OLB’s. A position that, if nothing else, has a lot of players, perhaps even JPP vying for a role. Our pass rush was more than adequate against the Browns, but would have been more evident if the defenders actually took down the QB when they were nipping at his heels.

    0
    0
    No votes yet.
    Please wait...