1. Bucs

Mike Evans working with Jameis Winston on better connections

Bucs receiver Mike Evans catches the winning touchdown against Atlanta last fall, one of his three scores on the season.
Bucs receiver Mike Evans catches the winning touchdown against Atlanta last fall, one of his three scores on the season.
Published Apr. 12, 2016

TAMPA — Mike Evans led the Bucs last year with 74 catches and 1,206 yards, both up from his rookie year, but with only three touchdowns and lingering problems with dropped passes.

Now he's working to build a better relationship with QB Jameis Winston in their second year together.

"We've been hanging out more. We're both busy guys, but we find time to hang out and throw when we can," Evans said Monday on the first day of the team's offseason conditioning workouts. "I agree with (head coach) Dirk Koetter: Our chemistry was a little off last year, mostly on my end though. I feel it won't be a problem this year."

Koetter said he's confident because both his quarterback and receiver know they can do more than they did in their first season together. That understanding and competitiveness will help their connection reach another level this fall, he said.

"They're not blind to the amount of talent that those two guys have," Koetter said. "The better those two guys play and the better those two guys execute, the better off our football team will be. They're not blind to that. Even though statistically speaking, both of those guys had pretty decent seasons last year, the bottom line is still wins in the NFL and for us to win, Jameis and Mike have to become a more lethal combination, and I'm quite confident that they will."

This and that: Attendance isn't technically required until mandatory minicamp June 13-16. "We had a really good turnout for Day 1," Koetter said. "We were not at 100 percent, but we were pretty darn close."

Involved with draft: Koetter and his assistants are involved in draft decisions and many have been on the road, personally working out draft prospects on campuses. Koetter said about half of each day is still devoted to the draft, and his coaches are now all back from the road and those evaluations.

"(Coaches') written reports have to be in either today or tomorrow, and the next step is the coaches get together with (general manager) Jason (Licht) and his guys and we watch some film together and we stack the board," Koetter said. "Jason stacks the board and we watch him, but the coaches have input on that. I thought it was very, very productive in the part I sat in on last year and I'm looking forward to getting in there. I've watched a lot of tape. Of course, Jason and his guys, that's all they do. That's what's we'll be doing, right up until a couple of days before the draft."

All on board: It's largely procedural, but the Bucs have signed all five of their restricted and exclusive-rights free agents, and all are in position to compete for jobs in training camp. The restricted free agents were S Bradley McDougald and WR Russell Shepard; DE Jacquies Smith, LB Jeremiah George and LS Andrew DePaola signing as exclusive-rights free agents.

Contact Greg Auman at and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.


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