“I’ve got to lose more weight. I’m too heavy right now. But the workouts I’ve been doing, I’ll be fine. I’ll be ready.”
-Tampa Bay rookie wide receiver Mike Evans
If you had to pick one, which would you prefer from your rookie, a sound mind or a sound body? With less than two months until the NFL regular season kicks off, it seems Mike Evans has work to do in both departments. He’s said he’d like to lose seven to ten pounds, and still needs work on picking up the playbook. “I’m starting to understand you have to adjust to different blitzes, corner blitz, safety blitz, stuff like that. This offense is pretty complicated, coming from something easy, but it isn’t too bad.”
In the mind of the Buccaneers’ fan, which of these is more concerning, Evans being out of shape or him not being up to speed on the playbook yet? You expect players to be out of shape in the offseason, whether they are rookies or seasoned veterans. Nothing can replicate the consistent workouts that training camp and the regular season can provide. More than that, while Evans can and should get himself into shape, his speed is not his biggest ally. It’s his height and athleticism. Evans was brought in because he can win jump balls over the new, bigger prototypical NFL corner. Unless something happens that flies in the face of science, Evans isn’t getting any shorter.
But if Evans can’t pick up the complexity of Tampa Bay’s offense, that is a huge concern for Bucs fans. Coming from Texas A&M’s fast but simple offense, Evans was always going to have his work cut out for him in getting up to speed. But with players like Vincent Jackson and Doug Martin already comfortable with the NFL’s intricacies, Evans inability to pick up the playbook would stand in stark contrast.
With so much time remaining until training camp starts, Mike Evans has plenty of time to both get himself into shape and get more adjusted to the offense Tampa Bay wants to run. His conditioning should get back on track just by competing in practice and training camp, but the real question will be his willingness to spend extra time understanding his playbook. If he does, he could be a venomous weapon against opposing secondaries. But if he falls behind, he’ll simply be one more case of a player with loads of potential who couldn’t make his talents translate to the NFL’s level.