Bucs journal: When in doubt, keep throwing to Mike Evans

The Bucs' Pro Bowl receiver keeps making big catches in traffic.
Images of Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans are on the socks of QB Jameis Winston during practice last week. The two hooked up for a 38-yard reception against the Titans in the first half. (Associated Press)
Images of Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans are on the socks of QB Jameis Winston during practice last week. The two hooked up for a 38-yard reception against the Titans in the first half. (Associated Press)
Published Aug. 19, 2018|Updated Aug. 19, 2018

NASHVILLE — Coach Dirk Koetter joked last week that the Bucs' offense consisted mostly of throwing to WR Mike Evans.

All kidding aside, it's not a bad plan.

Evans is the most reliable weapon among the Bucs' corps of target-rich receivers. He proved that again Saturday in a 30-14 preseason win against the Titans.

On the first play of the game, Evans got deep against the Titans' secondary, but the pass from QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was too long.

But on the first pass attempt from QB Jameis Winston to start the second quarter, Evans turned around to haul in a 38-yard reception in tight coverage, hanging on to the ball despite taking an illegal hit to the head that tacked on 15 yards more.

The play illustrated how secure Evans' hands are and his ability to make difficult catches in traffic. Evans had two catches for 49 yards in the game.

Dotson’s debut

It has been a long road back for RT Demar Dotson, who returned to the lineup Saturday.

Dotson, 32, missed the final five games last season with a torn posterior cruciate ligament in his knee. Then in March, he needed surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.

Dotson has missed 18 games over the past three seasons but still graded out as the Bucs' best offensive lineman in 2017, according to statistics website Pro Football Focus.

He began working more during 11-on-11 periods in practice and took most of the reps with the Bucs' starting offense during joint practices with the Titans this week.

"They wanted to take it slow, and I think that was the best thing for me," Dotson said.

His timing is good. The Bucs are without tackles Leonard Wester and Cole Gardner, who have missed the past few weeks with injuries. Both were inactive Saturday.

Fitz’s Tennessee Waltz

When you've played for seven teams in 14 seasons like Fitzpatrick, you see a lot of exes.

That was the case again this week when Fitzpatrick visited the Titans, a team for which he played for one season, 2013.

After ending a four-year stint in Buffalo, Fitzpatrick signed with Tennessee to be Jake Locker's backup. But he wound up starting nine games, going 3-6.

The only other team with which Fitzpatrick has spent one season is the Texans. He started 12 games for them in 2014.

"It seems like every year I'm going back somewhere and seeing different old teammates or old coaches,'' Fitzpatrick said. "I guess it's just always a reminder of the brotherhood in the league and just getting to know everybody. This is fun for us.

"When I was (in Tennessee), it was such a blur. Really, it was just a year. I had just gotten released from Buffalo, and I was only here for a quick time. … Jake is still a dear friend, and I saw some coaches. I had some fun memories.''

Fitzpatrick also saw an old nemesis or two. He competed against former Patriots CBs Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan, who now start for the Titans.

"I thought it was great battle the last few days, whether it was one-on-ones or out there in those team settings,'' Fitzpatrick said. "(The Titans are) very aggressive and physical. There's a couple guys over there I've gone against a bunch. … We were impressed and glad we got some work against them."


RB Charles Sims injured his left leg blocking on the opening kickoff and did not return.  … RG Caleb Benenoch came off the field during the second drive with a right leg injury. … S Jordan Whitehead left the game with a shoulder injury.


Rookie CB Carlton Davis (ankle) was the only slight surprise among inactive players for the Bucs. He dressed but did not play as a precaution. The other players not participating were S Josh Robinson, CB Vernon Hargreaves, DT Vita Vea, LB Kendell Beckwith, S Shaheed Salmon, LB Devante Bond, T Leonard Wester, T Cole Boozer, T Cole Gardner, WR Bobo Wilson and DT Mitch Unrein.