TAMPA — Mike Evans has just three weeks until the Bucs report for preseason training camp, even less until rookies are due back in town, and the first-round pick from Texas A&M is hard at work getting himself in shape for the season.
"Physically, I'm not in tip-top shape. I'm getting back into my game shape," said Evans, who is training in Miami with a group of players that includes Bears receiver Brandon Marshall. "As far as injury-wise, I feel good. I've been running, and I feel 100 percent."
Evans missed much of his first month of practice with the Bucs with a hamstring injury sustained on May 20, the first day of voluntary minicamp. He returned in a limited capacity for mandatory minicamp last month, and he expects to be fine when camp starts July 25 at One Buc Place.
Evans is training for two weeks in Miami at Fit Speed Athletic Performance, and he said his focus is dropping 7 to 10 pounds with a goal of playing at about 230 this fall. He was measured at 231 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine after playing at about 235 at Texas A&M.
"I've got to lose more weight. I'm too heavy right now," Evans said. "But the workouts I've been doing, I'll be fine. I'll be ready."
The hamstring injury was a physical setback, but he said he was pleased with the "mental reps" he got in while learning a far more complex offense under Bucs offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford, compared with what he experienced in college.
"I feel good. It's a lot more than we did in college, but I'm getting the hang of it," he said. "I'm starting to understand you have to adjust to different blitzes, corner blitz, safety blitz, stuff like that. This offense is pretty complicated, coming from something easy, but it isn't too bad."
Evans spent four days at the NFL's rookie symposium in Ohio last week — his roommate was the Bucs' second-round pick, Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, another big downfield target with a basketball background. The two have bonded well in a short amount of time — he said one night, Seferian-Jenkins was leaving their room about an hour before curfew.
"He said, 'I'm about to go run.' I said, 'I'll come with you.' He helped me out by doing that," Evans said. "First two nights, we did the treadmill, worked on the elliptical. He has a lot of energy and he works hard."
Seferian-Jenkins, too, was limited by a lingering foot injury during rookie minicamp and had to miss the rest of offseason workouts due to an NFL rule regarding the academic calendar at Washington. "He said he feels like he's in the best shape of his life," Evans said.
Evans, 20, said he learned valuable lessons from the symposium, listening to last year's rookies talk about the transition they made, and he appreciated the financial wisdom in teaching players to be careful with their money. Players were encouraged to have either a financial adviser or to find a teammate who has handled his income well.
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"That will be the most important thing I got from that," said Evans, who signed a four-year contract that earns him $14.6 million with an $8.96 million signing bonus.
There's no shortage of veteran leaders who have helped Evans already. Asked for an example, he mentioned eight: Josh McCown, Vincent Jackson, Doug Martin, Anthony Collins and Evan Dietrich-Smith on offense, as well as Alterraun Verner, Dashon Goldson and Gerald McCoy on defense.
"We have a lot of leaders," he said. "I'm real excited because we have great leaders and a great work ethic. They make the younger guys want to work even harder."
Contact Greg Auman at firstname.lastname@example.org and at (813) 226-3346. Follow @gregauman