As a 6-foot-5, 231-pound wide receiver, Mike Evans isn’t averse to a little contact after the snap.
Bump-and-run? Bring it on.
Ever since breaking into the league as a first-round draft pick in 2014, Evans has told reporters that mixing it up with defensive backs and run blocking are aspects of the game he looks forward to. Still the best hard evidence of this came two years ago when, as a rookie, Evans physically abused then-Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Terence Newman run-blocking downfield.
Bucs WR Mike Evans – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Sunday afternoon the star Bucs receiver will be spending plenty of time lined up across from a couple Denver Broncos cornerbacks who won’t be shying away from contact.
“Watching film today, they’re both real physical at the line of scrimmage so I’ve got to be as physical as those guys,” Evans said from the locker room about Denver’s two top corners. “Obviously they’re both Pro Bowl guys, so I like the challenge.”
The Broncos that Evans is referring to are former Buccaneer Aqib Talib and fifth-year corner Chris Harris Jr. Through three unbeaten games, the duo on the outside has led an effort that ranks Denver as the fourth-best pass defense in the NFL, giving up 178.3 yards per game.
Talib’s playing his ninth year in the league. The book on him is out there, but he’s one of those next-level talents that will still beat you even if you know what’s coming.
“At the line of scrimmage, he’s so physical,” Evans said of Talib, before comparing him to another corner he faced two weeks ago in Arizona. “He’s a lot like Patrick Peterson at the line, both real physical. I don’t think he runs as good as Pat P., but he’s just as physical at the line of scrimmage.
“I’m trying to be the most physical receiver in the league and I’ve got to prove it by going out and dominating physical cornerbacks.”
Ever since entering the NFL, Evans has been busy climbing the ranks of the league’s top wideouts. He became the first Buccaneer pass catcher to record back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons to begin his career and is on pace for maybe his best year yet. The former Texas A&M Aggie is averaging 100.3 yards per game and has totaled 21 catches for 301 yards and three touchdowns. That’s as many scores as he had all of last season.
Talib spoke with the Tampa Bay media over the phone Wednesday and had some high praise for his upcoming competition.
“He’s a talented guy,” Talib said of Evans. “Big, fast – he goes in that Calvin Johnson category, that Julio Jones category. The big, fast guys [with] the big catch radius. His quarterback definitely trusts him. His quarterback gives him opportunities to make plays.
“With receivers, there are some guys that either have this huge catch radius or they don’t. It’s nothing you can learn in the NFL. I’m sure if you go watch Evans’ tape from 7th or 8th grade, I bet he’s doing the same thing. He’s catching jump balls and running past people catching deep balls. It’s just that catch radius that makes him special.”
The challenge of going up against Talib isn’t limited to just the physical game, either. There are some mental games in there, too, but Evans isn’t worried.
“We’ll see how much he likes to talk,” Evans said. “I like to trash talk myself.”