After recording back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving season in his first two years in the league, Mike Evans' 2016 campaign is off to a hot start.
Evans leads the Buccaneers in receiving yards (449), receptions (32) and receiving touchdowns (4). He is currently the only player in the NFL in the top 10 in each of receiving yards per game, receptions per game and receiving touchdowns.
The Bucs have only played five games this year, so season-long projections may be a little premature. Still, at the pace he's on, Evans will finish the year with 1,436 yards and 12 touchdowns, which would set a career high for yards and tie his career high for touchdowns that he set during his rookie year. Should that happen, he would set the Bucs' single-season record for receiving yards and tie the team's touchdow record, which he already holds.
His performance thus far has impressed his wide recievers coach and offensive coordinator, Todd Monken. Monken is in his first year working with Evans and the Buccaneers offense after being hired last spring. And he believes that Evans is just scraping the surface.
"I've mentioned a number of times, just him being healthy and competing have helped him be consistent," Monken said. He wants to soak it all in. He's a young man that hasn't played a lot of football. Starting with high school and then college and here and so I just think he's made a commitment to himself in continuing to get better and it's a byproduct of what you see on the field."
With Vincent Jackson being placed on injured reserve, Evans will likely draw more attention from defenses, as well as be targeted more often. It could be a blessing or a curse, but Evans has been in that sitiation before. A year ago, Jackson missed significant time with an injury and Evans went on to catch 74 passes, which were more than his 2014 season that almost earned him the Rookie of the Year award.
Time will tell how Jackson's absence affects Evans, but if his first five games are any indication, a third-straight 1,000-yard season seems likely.