TAMPA, Fla. — Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver, suffered a hyperextension of his left knee that forced him to go straight to the hospital for an MRI in Week 17, but the three-time Pro Bowler said he hopes to be close to 100 percent on Sunday in the divisional playoffs against the New Orleans Saints.
Evans posted a 119-yard performance in the Bucks victory over Washington on Saturday.
God is good, Evans said. I’m glad. I dodged a bullet with hyperextension. The training staff did an excellent job. At ease. Lots of prayers. And it worked for me. I feel fresher. I hope to get closer to 100% in this game.
Evans extended his left knee in a single game after becoming the first player in NFL history to record 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first seven seasons. Last year, Evans became the second player, after Hall of Fame inductee Randy Moss, to record 1,000 yards of reception in his first six seasons.
It was painful, Mr. Evans said. I made a big touchdown. I felt my foot slip a little, but I just focused on the ball. I felt the pressure, but I just tried to focus on catching the ball. It was difficult. I wasn’t in the room. And then I was frustrated that I didn’t catch the ball, so I tried to get away really fast, and then I realized that it was pretty bad.
He said quarterback Tom Brady immediately approached him and assumed he knew what had happened.
That’s him: Did you tie your shoelaces? Evans said. And I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know what it was. But it was painful. The tumor has shrunk considerably.
After an MRI revealed no structural damage, Evans spent his workouts in the pool. Then there was the use of an arcade machine that combines compression and cold with speed healing. He was dealt to the Bucks and Tom Brady’s TB12 Sports Centre, then led the Bucks to 119 tackles for 119 yards in the postseason against Washington. It was also the Bucs’ first win in the playoffs since their Super Bowl victory at the end of the 2002 season.
It meant a lot. I didn’t play in the playoffs – it was my first time, my first game in the playoffs. I was excited to play, Evans said. It just meant a lot to be there and try to play to help my team win. The goal is to do enough each week to play the following week, so we’ll do it this week.
None of this came as a surprise to Chris Godwin, another Pro Bowl receiver, who has been an older brother and role model for Godwin since he arrived in Tampa Bay in 2017.
It was very impressive, Godwin said. Honestly, after being here for four years and seeing how Mike works and what kind of guy he is, I wasn’t really shocked. He’s a very tough guy, he’s a tough competitor, and I knew he was unstoppable in the first game of the playoffs.
While Evans didn’t have much time to get started on making history and helping the Bucs qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2007, he did get some positive feedback from some enthusiasts: NBA stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
I can’t believe… I’ll never be too old not to appreciate it, Mr Evans said. Like [they] are some of the heroes of my childhood, and they honor me and show me their love. It means a lot.
Randy… He didn’t contact me this time, but he did last year. He doesn’t have to. I know Randy. He’s a great guy, a great player and one of the best. It’s an incredible record, and I’m proud of it.
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