Bucs' Mike Evans improves, might play against New Orleans

Mike Evans looks up into the stands as he walks off the field after the Bucs' preseason victory over the Cincinnati Bengals last month. DIRK SHADD   |   Times
Mike Evans looks up into the stands as he walks off the field after the Bucs' preseason victory over the Cincinnati Bengals last month.DIRK SHADD | Times
Published September 18 2015
Updated September 19 2015

TAMPA — The biggest lineup question for the Bucs this week against the Saints — will WR Mike Evans make his season debut as he recovers from a hamstring injury? — will come down to a game-time decision Sunday .

"Mike Evans has been able to do more and more each day, which is a good thing," coach Lovie Smith said. "You want them to say they're ready to go, but Mike wasn't ready to go last week. He's closer this week, and we have a little bit of time before game time."

Evans was listed as "limited participation" on the official injury report, which classifies him as questionable for Sunday. He reiterated what he said Thursday, that he feels 100 percent and hopes he can play.

"The training staff did a great job — my hammies feel better than they ever have," Evans said. "I'm looking forward. Hopefully I get to go this week."

Evans said Thursday that he was "capable of playing" last week when he was inactive for the team's 42-14 loss to the Titans, but he respects his coaches' understanding and experience dealing with injuries.

"They've been around this game longer than I have, and they've seen funny things with hamstrings," Evans said. "They want to make sure I'm all the way, 100 percent. They're being cautious, and I understand. … We'll see what happens Sunday."

Two players who did not practice all week have been ruled out Sunday: S Major Wright (hip) and backup DE T.J. Fatinikun (shoulder). LBs Danny Lansanah (ankle) and Bruce Carter (ribs) were listed as "full participation" Friday and are questionable, as is CB Mike Jenkins (hamstring), who had limited participation Friday.

THIS AND THAT: The Bucs face a depleted Saints secondary. CB Keenan Lewis and S Jairus Byrd — son of Bucs cornerbacks coach Gill Byrd — are out injured, and S Rafael Bush, who started last week's opener, went on injured reserve after tearing a pectoral muscle. … Plant High graduate Bobby Richardson made the Saints' roster as an undrafted rookie defensive end out of Indiana and had three tackles in 14 snaps in his debut last week. … Bucs No. 3 QB Ryan Griffin won't dress Sunday, but he returns to the city where he spent the past seven years, first at Tulane, then as a backup with the Saints. "It's weird watching them on film, game-planning for them," said Griffin, who was claimed off waivers after being cut by the Saints two weeks ago.

Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.

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