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Bucs preparing to finish the season without Mike Evans

Bruce Arians to Bucs receivers: “Nobody’s going to be Mike. But just be yourself ... and catch the damn ball when it’s thrown to you."
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin (12) celebrates getting the first down during the third quarter at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on Sunday, December 8, 2019.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin (12) celebrates getting the first down during the third quarter at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on Sunday, December 8, 2019. [ OCTAVIO JONES | Times ]
Published Dec. 11, 2019

TAMPA — The Bucs began their practice week Wednesday starting to prepare for life without receiver Mike Evans.

Evans was nowhere to be seen at the Advent Health Training Center practice fields as the Bucs commenced practice. And there have been times when Evans hasn’t practiced early in the week and still played. He has been all but ruled out for Sunday’s game at Detroit and could very well be out for the season.

Evans has managed to be one of the game’s more durable receivers. He’s missed just three games — and just two due to injury — in his six-year NFL career, and has started 36 straight games.

Evans missed one game in 2017 due to a one-game suspension and hasn’t missed a game due to injury since sitting sat out the Bucs’ 2015 opener with a hamstring injury.

“Nobody’s going to be Mike,” Bucs coach Bruce Arians said. “But just be yourself. Whoever is playing the position, be yourself, do your job and catch the damn ball when it’s thrown to you.”

Evans’ absence will mean more attention for Chris Godwin, who leads the Bucs with 81 catches, 1,212 yards and nine touchdown receptions.

“Any time you miss a player like Mike on the field, it’s a big void,” Godwin said. “There’s a lot of opportunity for other guys to step in. The good thing is we have a lot of talented guys, a bunch of guys who have worked their tails off all season to be ready to step up when the time comes."

Receiver Breshad Perriman has posted the best two-game stretch of his career with eight catches for 158 yards and a touchdown, while tight end O.J. Howard had a season-high 73 receiving yards Sunday. The Bucs could get rookie wideout Scotty Miller back from a hamstring injury this week.

“We’ve got some great guys who have been stepping up for us," said quarterback Jameis Winston, who was practiced without throwing a football Wednesday due to a fractured right thumb.

The Lions are going through a similar situation, losing one half of their top receiving duo for the season after placing Marvin Jones on injured reserve with an ankle injury. For Detroit, that means more attention to 1,000-yard receiver Kenny Golladay and more looks for No. 3 receiver Danny Amendola.

“Mike Evans is a phenomenal player,” Lions coach Matt Patricia said. “He’s unbelievable. Chris Godwin is someone I have a tremendous amount of respect for. I think he’s someone who’s completely stepped up during the season. He’s a great player. He makes great plays throughout the course of the season, similar to our situation with Kenny and Marv. Those guys work really well together. But we have other players on the team who continually work. ... There are just guys who can step in and make the most of their roles.”

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at eencina@tampabay.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.

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