The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were breathing a little easier on Monday after the results of an MRI examination on the knee of top wide receiver Mike Evans came back clean. Head Coach Bruce Arians gave a relatively optimistic assessment of Evans' status and his potential to play in Saturday's Wild Card game at Washington
"Yeah, the MRI showed no structural damage," said Arians. "It was a hyperextension. I just saw him in the training room a little while ago [and] he has very, very little swelling. He'll be day-to-day."
This is obviously good news for Evans and the Buccaneers in many ways. A more serious injury like a ACL tear would have not only taken him out of the picture for the Bucs' first playoff run but might have also put the start of his 2021 season in doubt. Instead, the Buccaneers will monitor Evans' progress throughout the week and determine if he is healthy enough to play against Washington.
On Monday, Evans was already running in the large tub in the hydro room at the AdventHealth Training Center that has a treadmill floor. Arians hoped he could return to practice by Thursday, the last of three workouts the Bucs will hold this week. Earlier in the season Evans played through several games with a significant ankle injury and was determined to stay on the field at far less than full health because the Bucs' receiving corps was already thinned by other injuries. That included a concussion and then a broken finger for the team's other starter, Chris Godwin.
"Again, if he's 80%, we'd have to fight to keep him off the field, and him at 80% is better than a lot of guys at a hundred," said Arians. "We'll see what he is and how he feels. His leadership and his toughness…when Chris was down there was no way he was going to stay out. He went out there on one leg and played about three games on one leg and still performed well."
Arians also said that he expected cornerback Carlton Davis, who has missed two games with a groin injury to be "up and running" for Saturdays' game. He also said that outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett will be returning from the reserve/COVID-19 list this week. However, he wasn't as confident that the timetable leading up to a Saturday game rather than a Sunday contest would allow for inside linebacker Devin White and defensive lineman Steve McLendon to return in time to play in the Wild Card round.
"I was not overly excited about that," said Arians of his team drawing the Saturday night game. "It could potentially cost a couple players that would play on Sunday and we're still hoping."