Spectacular catch gets Mike Evans off to strong start

First-round draft pick Mike Evans strapped on his helmet and impressed Bucs coaches in his first rookie minicamp on Friday.
First-round draft pick Mike Evans strapped on his helmet and impressed Bucs coaches in his first rookie minicamp on Friday.
Published May 17, 2014

TAMPA — One hundred and one minutes into his rookie minicamp, first-round draft pick Mike Evans made a breathtaking catch. Leaping and stretching his 6-foot-5 body high into the air, he grabbed a badly overthrown ball from Wyoming QB Brett Smith using only his right hand.

Not only does Evans have an obvious vertical advantage over most defensive backs, he already is elevating the play of the Bucs offense.

"You talk to the players about doing something to make the coaches notice them," coach Lovie Smith said. "And seeing how guys can perform on the center stage, we have a first-round draft pick. Great catch by Mike Evans out there, but he's been doing that all week. He's a good football player."

Evans was among a number of rookies who were able to participate in offseason workouts with the Bucs veterans this week. He joked about being the only player to vomit following a conditioning session.

"It was good getting my feet back wet," Evans said. "But after conditioning, I was a little out of shape. I threw up after conditioning. I was the only person. But I'm getting back in shape and it's feeling good."

FIRST AND A FOOT: Washington TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins was limited Friday as he recovers from surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left foot that plagued him last season. The second-round pick wasn't eligible to participate until Friday because Washington is on a quarters system and classes were ongoing.

As for his injury, which may have resulted from Seferian-Jenkins gaining 20 pounds to 280 (he says he will play at 260), he is expected to be ready for training camp in July.

"We don't have any timetable on that," Seferian-Jenkins said. "We're just working back in, getting this rookie minicamp in and getting used to the plays."

PATCHAN BACK HOME: Soon after OT Matt Patchan showed up at Bucs facilities, he saw his former Armwood High teammate Ryne Giddins and gave the rookie tryout a hug.

"Tampa guys, you drive by the Bucs' stadium any time, you think this is a place I'd love to end up," Patchan said. "Dreams come true."

The 6-7, 300-pound Patchan took a long road from Tampa's high school stadiums to the NFL facilities 15 miles away. He transferred from Freedom High to Armwood, spent five years with the Gators and one at Boston College and battled injuries and position changes.

He said he was surprised he wasn't drafted last week, but he was excited to sign as a free agent with his hometown team. His prolonged journey to the NFL has another perk: By cycling through five coordinators and position coaches during his college career, he has learned how to pick up new systems quickly, which could help him during the three-day rookie camp.

"I'm proud of my story," Patchan said. "I've been through the ringer with a few things, and I'm happy to have overcome those things, and I think I'm a stronger person because of it."

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TWO DOWN, FOUR TO GO: The Bucs announced the signing of two of their draft picks to four-year contracts: Tennessee State G Kadeem Edwards, a fifth-round selection, and Wyoming WR Robert Herron, a sixth-round choice.

No terms yet on deals were released, but Herron's 185th pick is slotted for a $112,000 signing bonus, per

Times staff writers Matt Baker and Greg Auman contributed to this report.