TAMPA — Bucs receiver Mike Evans will miss Friday’s third preseason game against the Cleveland Browns, coach Bruce Arians said following Wednesday’s practice.
Evans missed his third straight practice Wednesday, which was the team’s final tuneup before hosting the Browns, with an apparent left leg injury.
Asked whether Evans was being held out as a precaution, Arians said, “no, he’s injured.” Earlier this week, Arians said that injuries to Evans and running back Ronald Jones, who suffered a knee injury, weren’t serious. Jones has returned to practice.
Evans left Sunday’s practice after catching a deep ball after holding his left quad area and didn’t return.
His absence means his preseason is likely over — starters won’t play in the fourth and final preseason game regardless — and the focus will be on ensuring he’s available for the Bucs’ regular-season opener against the San Francisco 49ers on Sept. 8.
Meanwhile, safety Justin Evans, currently on the physically unable to perform list with a toe injury, performed running drills with a trainer for a second straight day on Friday, but this time with pads and a helmet on.
That would appear to be one of the final tests before Evans can be activated from the PUP list and join practice. If he’s able to practice next week, he could conceivably play in the preseason finale next Thursday.
Evans, who has been nagged by foot injuries dating back to last season. He missed six of the Bucs’ final seven games last season due to injury.
The Bucs need to find out whether Evans can help them to open the season. If he remains on the PUP list to open the season, he would miss the first six weeks.
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at email@example.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.