TAMPA — The bye week helped the Bucs in more ways than just letting the players getting away from football. During practice Tuesday, many of injured players returned, including CB Johnthan Banks.
The Bucs even saw the return of two guys not officially on the 53-man roster. OL Demar Dotson and DT Akeem Spence returned to practice and the team has 21 days to evaluate the pair before deciding its next move.
Dotson was placed on the injured reserve/designated to return list after suffering a knee injury during the first preseason game against Minnesota. Spence was placed on the physically-unable-to-perform list after precamp back surgery.
Tampa Bay worked out in helmets and shorts during the short practice. Two players sat out: G Logan Mankins (groin) and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder). It is a major difference from the team's last practice on Wednesday when 11 players did not practice and that did not include Dotson or Spence.
"You're always looking at where you have all options available each week," coach Lovie Smith said. "Hopefully that will be the case where we pretty much have all of our options open this week. It's always about the next guy stepping up when you do have injuries. We have seen that. Our depth has been developed a lot more of having to play some guys. Again we feel like we're ready to go."
Washington memories: Throughout his rookie season, WR Mike Evans was confident of his ability to make plays. By the time the team defeated Washington 27-7 on Nov. 16, the entire league was talking about Evans.
Evans torched the Redskins for 209 yards and two touchdowns on seven receptions. He became the youngest player in NFL history with 200 yards in a game and became the first rookie in league history to have three straight games with at least seven receptions, 100 yards and one touchdown.
"It was a great game for me," Evans said. "It showed my ability to take over games and it showed my ability at the receiver position."
Evans is hoping a return trip to Washington can get him going. Though he has one 100-yard game this season (101 yards against Houston), Evans hasn't scored a touchdown this season and has just six catches since that performance.
"After the bye week (last season), that's where I made my stretch of good games," Evans said. "Hopefully that can be the same this year."
Best player plays: As the Bucs continue to get healthy, Smith and his staff will have to decide whether the injured players will return to their starting jobs or if the lineups will remain the same.
Last week, offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said he believes a starter should not lose his job to injury. Smith said there is no concrete answer.
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"To me, you lose your job if you're not the best available guy," Smith said. "It doesn't matter how it happens, there's no set formula that you go by as far as how I've done it. If you have two healthy guys, you make a decision as a coach on who gives you the best chance to win."