As he readies himself for year three of his NFL career, Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans is carrying a burden on his broad shoulders. Not only will he be quarterback Jameis Winston's main target on a Bucs team looking to leap from a 6-10 season last year, but he's also been charged with fixing the biggest no-no of the wideout position: drops.
Evans hauled in 74 passes for 1,206 yards in 2015, but he was targeted by Winston 147 times, which means he only caught 50 percent of his passes. According to ESPN, that's the lowest percentage of any wide receiver who went over 1,000 yards last season, eight percentage points lower than the next closest man. Evans also led the NFL with 11 drops last season.
Something was off, so in the off-season Evans set one goal: fix it. He realized that he'd been playing at a weight that was doing him more harm than good. At 235 to 240 pounds last season, he felt sluggish, especially toward the end of games. So he decided to free himself of the excess weight and become more conditioned than he'd ever been by cracking down on his diet and monitoring what he consumed much more closely
"In OTAs, I felt slow and heavy," Evans told ESPN. "I got my weight down. This is the lightest I've been since college—around 220. I feel real good—like I can run all day."
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) August 8, 2016
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@TBBuccaneers) August 4, 2016
Evans is getting rave reviews in training camp, especially in live drills, where he's made a habit of juking out cornerbacks before hauling in everything Winston has thrown his way.
A lighter Mike Evans means a better Mike Evans, and if he's able to cure the drops that have plagued him through his NFL career, you might see a receiving total close to 2,000 yards this season, mark my words.
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