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Bruce Arians: Bucs need to target Mike Evans more often

The coach says he wishes they had moved his top receiver around more against the Saints.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13), right, is congratulated by quarterback Tom Brady (12) after Evans nabbed a touchdown catch during the fourth quarter against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13), right, is congratulated by quarterback Tom Brady (12) after Evans nabbed a touchdown catch during the fourth quarter against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Sep. 15, 2020

TAMPA — The battle between Mike Evans and Saints defensive back Marshon Lattimore is always worth two bags of popcorn.

The pendulum swings back and forth. Evans wins some, Lattimore wins his share.

On Sunday, Evans was playing with a hamstring strain that had forced him to miss three practices leading up to the opener.

He gutted it out and wound up playing 63 snaps on offense. But Evans finished with only one catch for 2 yards and a touchdown. He did, however, impact the passing game by drawing two interference penalties.

Nonetheless, if Evans is going to be on the field that long, he has to see more footballs aimed his direction.

“We got to do a better job when we play the Saints of getting Mike in different positions,” coach Bruce Arians said Tuesday on his weekly radio show. “I think we let him sit there on the backside too much last week and it’s something we’re going to have to address when we play them later on again. ... I never want to come out of a game without 10 targets to Mike, at least."

Arians praised Lattimore, who is big and fast enough to compete with Evans even though many times Sunday he had safety help.

“The ball is in the quarterback’s hand so the targets come that way,” Arians said. "We design as much as we can. Overall, I thought the distribution was pretty solid.

“He’s a big, strong, physical guy and he’s fast so he matches up with Mike. But Mike got him beat deep twice, and really the one (pass interference) was on (Marcus) Williams.”

Arians said Evans came out of the game without aggravating the injury.

“Watching him in practice Friday, he moved around a lot and ran fast," Arians said. “To see if there was going to be any residual soreness on Saturday and there wasn’t. He went out in pre-game warmusp and was full speed. He probably played too many plays. I would’ve liked to have had him play only 40 instead of 63. But he was fine. And he’s in great shape now. No lingering affects.”