TAMPA — On the practice fields, Breshad Perriman and Justin Watson have caught more passes than they could ever count from Jameis Winston. But being involved in a Bucs passing offense that runs through its pair of 1,000-yards wideouts, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, those looks dwindle every Sunday.
But when Evans went down Sunday with a hamstring injury in the first quarter of the Bucs’ 38-35 win over Indianapolis, Perriman and Watson served as unlikely but capable heroes. They were two among nine Bucs who made receptions on the day and helped Winston rally the Bucs from a two-touchdown, second-half deficit.
Perriman, a free-agent signing acquired to stretch the field, has been largely inconsistent this season. Through five games he caught less than a fifth of the passed thrown his way (3 of 16 targets).
Watson recorded just 26 offensive snaps before Sunday. But with rookie receiver Scotty Miller and punt returner T.J. Logan injured, Watson figured to play a more prominent role on Sunday.
Watson, who entered the day with just two career receptions, had five catches for 59 yards, including his first NFL touchdown in the third quarter.
And Perriman followed his best game in last week’s win in Jacksonville by catching the game-winning touchdown pass with 3:51 remaining Sunday.
“Those guys go to work every day and they were prepared," Winston said. “The opportunity presented itself and they were ready.”
Godwin led the Bucs with 91 receiving yards but had just one second-half catch for 11 yards. Perriman and Watson helped pick up the slack.
“Everybody gets the reps,” said tight end O.J. Howard, who had a season-high 73 receiving yards on four catches. “Everybody’s in the meeting room every day when coach is going over the routes individually. Guys take notes. You’re a professional and when one man goes down, another man has to step up."
Perriman’s day started with a one-handed third-down catch that helped set up the Bucs’ first touchdown of the day. On the play, Winston rolled right, drew pressure and lofted a pass to Perriman, who turned it into a 31-yard gain.
Watson’s touchdown was a big one, bringing the Bucs within a touchdown with 2:41 left in the third quarter at 35-28.
“More than anything I was more worried about being the punt returner,” Watson said. "So being a receiver, that’s easy, that’s something I do every day for my whole life. I was just glad the results showed the work."
After just overthrowing Perriman earlier in the game on a deep ball that would likely have been a touchdown, Winston pinpointed a throw to Perriman in when it mattered most, hitting a diving Perriman in the left corner of the end zone.
“I kind of knew it was coming to me because it was man to man,” Perriman said. “Jameis put it in the perfect spot where only I could catch it. .... That’s how our vibe is. He will let me know he’s still coming for me. And I let him know I’ve got his back. No matter whose fault it is. Regardless, I can always do better to help me make that catch. That’s just the type of relationship we got and the type of relationship he had with everyone on the team."
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Perriman has eight catches on 11 targets for 157 yards the last two games after previously making just 11 catches on 32 targets for 139 yards.
”I feel like I’m doing the same things that I was doing in the beginning of the season," Perriman said. “It’s just I go out there and practice and work hard like I’ve been doing all year. I just feel like everybody’s clicking right now. The receiver group and me and Jameis personally. We’ve just been clicking.”
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at email@example.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.