Sunday, June 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Look, Mom! One hand! Mike Evans and the art of the one-handed catch

LAKE BUENA VISTA — When the NFL's official site posted a highlight video of the top 50 catches of the 2016 season, No. 1 on the list wasn't a game-winner or even a touchdown.

It was a leaping sideline grab by the Bucs' Mike Evans in a lopsided loss to the Falcons on a Thursday night in November.

Evans saw a pass from Jameis Winston, high and a bit behind him, turned his body and leapt high for a one-handed catch, pulling the ball in and getting both feet inbounds, then holding on as rookie safety Keanu Neal delivered a crushing helmet-first hit on the sideline.

As the NFL's best receivers assemble in Orlando this week for Sunday's Pro Bowl, the one-handed catch remains a can't-miss crowd-pleaser, something that put Giants star Odell Beckham on the map and still inspires one-upmanship.

"It's become more of an entertainment than a competition," says Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin, whose wild, diving one-handed grab against the 49ers was No. 2 on the same NFL highlight rankings. "The younger kids are in awe of the one-handed catch. In terms of technique, it's still just keeping your eye on the ball. How you catch it with two hands is the same way you catch with one."

ESPN devoted an hour of prime-time programming Thursday to a Pro Bowl skills competition, with Evans leading off as one of four receivers challenged to make an array of circus catches — one-handed, sideline toe-tapping, over-the-shoulder plays. Beckham was ultimately edged out by his former LSU teammate and friend, Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry.

"It's not about intentionally trying to make a one-handed catch to make a highlight reel, but if the moment permits, I'll be ready for it," Landry said. "I practice it. I'm held to a higher standard now. I challenge myself to make every catch."

The Pro Bowl, an exhibition with no coach on the sideline to scold a player for drops, is an opportunity to impress the best. The Cowboys' Dez Bryant likes watching his fellow receivers set the bar high for each other.

"Odell, Mike Evans, Doug Baldwin," said Bryant, naming his favorites on a single hand. "Even in the AFC, Jarvis Landry, all those guys. I love seeing people be great."

Evans always has had a knack for one-handed grabs. He made a memorable one across the middle on his first day of 2014 minicamp.

Evans is 6 feet 5, and his basketball background had him palming a bigger ball as a matter of habit. Today's draft prospects have their hands measured to the nearest eighth of an inch, knowing they need every bit of their grip to reel in passes with one hand or both.

But the one-handed grab isn't for everyone, more of an outstretched last resort for some than anything you'd practice or try to do against fundamental instincts.

"I just want to catch it," Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton said. "God gave me two hands, so I want to use both of them."

Baldwin said he expects amazing catches from receivers, so he's more impressed when he sees a defensive back make a play like Arizona's Patrick Peterson's one-handed sideline interception against the Bills.

"Odell, I think he's the one who gets all the attention," Baldwin said, "but if I had to put him up against Pat P's catches, Pat P might win it."

If there's a play from the Pro Bowl that fans are likely to pull up on their phones or talk about at the office the next day, it might be another one-handed grab, at least if the receivers have anything to say about it.

"Everybody works on it. It doesn't just stick on its own — you have to have the right hand placement, right grip and everything," Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas said. "If you're good enough to catch it with one hand, why not try?"

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

 
Comments
Greg Auman answers your questions about NFL’s investigation into Jameis Winston

Greg Auman answers your questions about NFL’s investigation into Jameis Winston

There are many unanswered questions and discrepancies about the story of Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston and the March 2016 Uber ride in Arizona that has led to his upcoming three-game suspension for violating the NFL's conduct policy.The Bucs won't ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Will this be Jameis Winston’s last season in a Bucs uniform?

Will this be Jameis Winston’s last season in a Bucs uniform?

A t his introductory news conference after being drafted No. 1 overall by the Bucs in 2015, Jameis Winston said to judge him on his actions moving forward."Actions speak so much louder than words, or what they may have read or what they may have hear...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Ronald Darby’s friend: Jameis Winston got into second Uber ride alone

Ronald Darby’s friend: Jameis Winston got into second Uber ride alone

New details emerged Friday night about the Uber ride in Arizona in March 2016 that led to Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston's three-game suspension to start the upcoming season, including the fact that Winston was in a car that night with a former Vand...
Published: 06/22/18
Chris Godwin on SiriusXM: Bucs have confidence in backup QBs

Chris Godwin on SiriusXM: Bucs have confidence in backup QBs

Bucs receiver Chris Godwin, who has had as good an offseason as any Tampa Bay player, was on SiriusXM NFL radio for a scheduled interview on Thursday night, talking about a range of subjects, including the news of Jameis Winston's suspension to start...
Published: 06/22/18
With Winston suspension, how might Bucs split QB reps in preseason?

With Winston suspension, how might Bucs split QB reps in preseason?

With news that Jameis Winston will be suspended for the first three games of 2018, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter has an interesting decision to make for training camp and especially in preseason games: How does he split reps between Winston and backup Ryan...
Published: 06/22/18
Bucs QB Jameis Winston’s suspension: What they’re saying

Bucs QB Jameis Winston’s suspension: What they’re saying

There are so many sides to the Jameis Winston suspension, and it will continue to be a major Bucs story line through September and beyond. Here's some of the reactions and notes that have already emerged in the first 24 hours since news broke Thursda...
Published: 06/22/18
Welcome back to the dark side, Bucs fans

Welcome back to the dark side, Bucs fans

TAMPA — Thursday was not the end of Jameis Winston in Tampa Bay, but it is in sight.Me? I was sitting at home. I was tired of the NBA draft, even with Tampa's Kevin Knox going to the New York Knicks.So I switched to the NFL Network. An episode ...
Published: 06/22/18
Winston aftermath: Report says Darby wasn’t in car for whole ride

Winston aftermath: Report says Darby wasn’t in car for whole ride

There's no telling how much detail will be disclosed in what the NFL learned in its investigation that led to Jameis Winston being suspended for the first three games of the upcoming season, but some have already been reported in the first 24 hours s...
Published: 06/22/18
Kwon Alexander to Jameis Winston: ‘We gotcha back’

Kwon Alexander to Jameis Winston: ‘We gotcha back’

There are many questions in the aftermath of Thursday's news that Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston will be suspended for the first three games of the 2018 season, but even before the suspension is officially announced, he is drawing support on social ...
Published: 06/22/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Jameis Winston to receive three-game suspension

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Jameis Winston to receive three-game suspension

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston will be suspended by the NFL for three games according to reports, and that number could go up if he doesn't meet certain criteria.Rick Stroud explains that the suspension is not for a failure to report the 2016 i...
Published: 06/22/18