Don't Expect Another Mike Evans Shutout vs. Saints

Luke Easterling

Prior to his first meeting against the New Orleans Saints this season, Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans had caught at least one pass in 64 straight games.

The Saints held him catch-less in a 31-24 win in New Orleans.

This time around, as the Bucs prepare to host the Saints in Tampa Bay on Sunday, don't expect the same result from one of the league's top receivers. Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich made it clear they want to make Evans a priority this week.

“We’ll put him in different places,” Leftwich said Thursday. “We’ll move him around. We’ll go to him when he’s in his one-on-one matchups. When a guy’s that special [and] a guy’s that good, for the most part, the ball will find his way more than not. It didn’t that game. We don’t want to go too far with trying to just move him around and put him in different situations. We’ll do what we think we need to do for us to have the most success really as an offense, not just really for Mike. For the most part, that guy doesn’t really need a lot of help. He gets in position and makes plays for us, so we don’t want to do too much. We’re going to be us. We’re going to go be us and hopefully he’ll have more catches this game.”

Leftwich wants to get Evans the ball, but he knows Evans always holds himself to a high standard, and Sunday's game won't be anything different just because of what happened the last time he faced the Saints.

“When you’re as good as he is, I’m quite sure he’s motivated by a lot of things,” Leftwich said. “Mike’s a true superstar. The way he plays, the plays that he makes [and] the things that he does for us as a team [are] unique. Very few people can make the plays that Mike can make. I don’t know his thinking of it, but I’m quite sure he’ll be ready to play this Sunday as if he’s ready to play every Sunday, and that’s all I know of the guy. He’ll come ready to play – I’ve got to do a better job of getting him the ball.”

Evans currently ranks No. 2 in the NFL in both receiving yards (924) and touchdown receptions (seven), averaging 17.1 yards per catch. If he tops the 1,000-yard mark in Sunday's game, he'll join Hall of Famer Randy Moss as the only receivers in NFL history to start their NFL careers with six straight 1,000-yard seasons.

Tampa Bay's plan to get Evans the ball more this week could be helped by the fact that the Saints' top corner, Marshon Lattimore, is dealing with an injury that could keep him out of Sunday's game.