TAMPA, Fla. – Mike Evans isn't making any bold predictions about how he can make the Tampa Bay Buccaneers better.
The first-round draft pick out of Texas A&M just wants to do anything he can to help the team win. And, the 6-foot-5, 231-pound receiver wants to do it soon.
If the opening day of the Bucs' weekend rookie minicamp is any indication, he's going to be a welcome addition to an offense that ranked 30th in scoring and last in passing and total yardage in 2013.
Evans made a highlight-reel, one-handed grab near the end of a two-hour workout Friday, one that would hardly catching anyone who followed his college career by surprise.
"Great catch, but he's been doing that all week. He's a good football player," said coach Lovie Smith, who welcomed this year's rookie class to Tampa last Monday and had them on the field meeting and working with the team's veterans the following day.
Still, Smith was impressed, watching Johnny Manziel's favorite target at Texas A&M lining up against much shorter cornerbacks and making plays all over the field.
"Of course he has great hands and physical ability. You can see that. But it does take a lot for a rookie to come in, and shine right away," Smith, preparing for his first season as Tampa Bay's coach, said. "We're not game-ready by any means right now, but we like the progress we've seen from day one."
Evans is a former high school basketball star who only played one year of football before enrolling at Texas A&M, where he had 151 receptions for 2,499 yards and 17 touchdowns in two seasons. He averaged a nation-leading 20.02 yards per reception in 2013, and was the second receiver selected in the draft behind Clemson's Sammy Watkins, No. 7 overall.
Tampa Bay used its entire draft to seek help on offense, selecting tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the second round and running back Charles Sims in the third before adding guard Kadeem Edwards, tackle Kevin Pamphile and receiver Robert Herron on the final day of the draft.
The announced late Friday that Edwards, taken in the fifth round, and Herron, a sixth-rounder, had agreed to four-year contracts.
"When you're 4-12, you need a little bit more," Smith said, referring to the record the Bucs compiled in their last season under former coach Greg Schiano. "We're trying to add as many weapons as we can. Guys who know how to get the ball in the end zone.
The Bucs plan to play Evans opposite Vincent Jackson, another big, physical receiver who has five career 1,000-yard seasons, including the past two with Tampa Bay.
"I was a big Vincent Jackson fan in high school and college. It's great to team up with him, and play with him, and learn from him," Evans said.
When the rookie arrived at the team's training facility earlier in the week, one of the first veterans to greet him was quarterback Luke McCown, who took him into a meeting room to give him a head start on learning the offense.
"I'm just getting my feet wet," said Evans, who conceded he struggled a bit in the Florida heat, when he took the field with the vets on Tuesday.
"I was a little out of shape. I threw up. The only person" who did that, Evans added. "But I'm getting back in shape and feeling good."
Indeed, he didn't show any signs of being bothered by the heat on Friday. He's accustomed to making dazzling plays, so he didn't consider his one-handed catch as any big deal.
"We haven't been surprised by an awful lot," the coach said. "You take a player that high in the draft, you expect to see some spectacular plays."
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