Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs' Pass-Catchers Stepping Up for Winston

WRs Mike Evans and Adam Humphries, along with TE Cameron Brate, have stood out in Weeks 2 and 3.

With Doug Martin sidelined with a hamstring injury, the Buccaneers' offense is undoubtedly different. Martin rushed for 1,402 yards a season ago, but was injured at the start of the Buccaneers' Week 2 matchup with the Cardinals. In those two games, the Buccaneers have fallen behind early and turned to the air, asking Jameis Winston to throw the ball a combined 110 times. He has thrown 142 passes this season, which are the second-most by a first or second-year quarterback in their first three games since 1960.

Although the final results have been mixed thus far, Winston has had his moments. He has thrown eight touchdown passes, which are tied for the most in the NFL, and has been nominated for the FedEx Air Player of the Week twice. He won the award, along with the NFC's Offensive Player of the Week award, in Week 1.

Winston can credit some of his success to the performance of wide receivers Mike Evans and Adam Humphries, along with the play of tight end Cameron Brate. Evans and Brate are both ranked among the top 10 in the league at their respective positions, according to Pro Football Focus, and Humphries has set career-highs for receptions in back-to-back weeks.  

Evans has caught a touchdown in each of the Bucs' first three games, which is a team-record. With a year of experience working together, his connection with Winston continues to grow.

"I think it's just Mike's work ethic, his true dedication and the fact that he's getting open," Winston said. "He's out there working his tail off and playing hard.

"I think he's probably more comfortable. I can't say he's definitely doing something better. I think I'm giving his more chances this year than I gave him last year. Definitely just me getting him the ball more and he's just producing."

Humphries won the starting slot receiver job at the start of training camp and has been one of Winston's most reliable targets thus far. While he has yet to find the end zone, his 18 catches are second on the team, just three behind Evans.

"Adam is just pure passion, man," Winston said. "He's one of the guys that we know we have to get the ball and we know he's going to make some plays for us. Definitely a guy that we can count on to make some big plays for us."

Both Evans and Humphries are averaging more than 10 yards per reception.

The Bucs' offense will face a tough test when they face the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday. Denver has one of the NFL's best pass defenses to go with one of the league's top pass-rush units. It's a challenge, but Winston and the Buccaneers are excited to face it head-on.

"I'm really excited because this is a great team, a great franchise. Who else should we play besides these guys? We've got them and then we've got Carolina in back-to-back weeks. When you look at that stretch with Arizona, the Rams, Denver and Carolina, (that's) arguably the (four) best defenses in the NFL. This is a challenge and that's why all of us have to come together and take on that challenge. This is a great opportunity that we're given."

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