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Bucs journal: Mike Evans suspended a game for blindsiding Saints player

By Greg Auman
LOREN ELLIOTT | Times Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) and teammates stand on the field as defensive end William Gholston (92) is assessed with a serious injury during the second half of an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, La., on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017.

TAMPA — Bucs WR Mike Evans’ decision to blindside a Saints player who had shoved QB Jameis Winston has resulted in a one-game suspension.

The NFL announced Monday that Evans was suspended without pay for one game for "violations of unsportsmanlike conduct and unnecessary roughness." He will appeal the suspension, but if it’s upheld, he’ll lose his weekly base salary of $40,588 for missing Sunday’s home game against the Jets.

Saints rookie CB Marshon Lattimore had shoved Winston after the quarterback came onto the field and poked him with a finger to the back of the helmet. Evans ran and hit Lattimore from behind, knocking him to the ground. The receiver apologized after the game, calling his actions "very childish" and "unprofessional."

Evans, a Pro Bowl selection last year and the team’s leading receiver, was assessed a 15-yard penalty but not ejected. Saints coach Sean Payton said after the game that Evans should have been ejected, and Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said Monday that "Mike probably should have been ejected."

"Totally unacceptable behavior, first by Jameis and then by Mike," Koetter said. "Jameis cannot under any circumstances come off the sideline when he’s not even playing in the game. Trash talking is trash talking, but to go out and tap another player, touch another player at all on the field, that’s inexcusable. Then the Saints player responded and Mike reacted, and that’s not acceptable, either. That’s not having your teammate’s back, that just wrong. … I talked to the entire team about that today, and that cannot happen. That is totally unacceptable."

Jon Runyan, the NFL’s vice president of football operations, wrote in a letter to Evans that "your conduct clearly did not reflect the high standards of sportsmanship expected of a professional."

Evans acknowledged Sunday that he might be suspended, saying he wanted to play and help his team but that the league would do what it had to do.

"I shouldn’t have done that," Evans said Sunday. "That was kind of malicious. I shouldn’t have hit him in his back like that. I should have just shoved him away, tried to break it up. I reacted too quick."

Injury updates

Koetter said DE Will Gholston is undergoing additional testing after sustaining a neck injury in the third quarter Sunday. He was strapped to a stretcher and carted off but was able to fly home with the team after being evaluated at a hospital. "We will see in the next day or so what that means as far as him playing moving forward," Koetter said. … Koetter said he’ll also know more about LT Donovan Smith’s knee injury "in the next couple of days." Smith missed the second half Sunday after not missing any snaps in his first 39 career games.

Grimes hopeful

CB Brent Grimes said he hopes to return to practice this week after missing two games with a pulled muscle in his right shoulder and back. Grimes said he injured himself in the opener but was able to play through it, then re-injured himself against Buffalo on Oct. 22. "It got worse. I finished the game, but after the game it was really messed up," Grimes said. "I tried to play through it. I just have to wait. Hopefully this week goes well and I can play. It just has to heal up."