Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Reasons to be Excited for 2015: #2

Now that the 2014 season is officially over, it's time to look ahead to 2015. Check back in tomorrow for the No. 1 reason to be excited for next season.

2. EVANS' SOPHOMORE SEASON

Check out all 12 of Rookie of the Year Nominee Mike Evans' touchdowns from the 2014 season.

The old saying around the NFL is that you'll know what you have in a player by his third season in the league. It's a big adjustment from college to the pros, on and off the field; players study their opponents on a full-time basis, opponents are bigger, faster and stronger, schedules are different, the seasons are longer.

Mike Evans could be an exception. Or he could still be getting better.

Evans caught 68 passes for 1,051 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2014, putting together the best season by a rookie wide receiver in Buccaneers history. His 12 touchdown catches were the most by a Tampa Bay wide-out in team history.

He became the youngest player in NFL history to record a 1,000-yard receiving season and joins Keenan Allen and Randy Moss as the only 21-year-olds in league history to surpass the 1,000-yard mark.

"I'm very proud," Evans said after the Bucs final game of the season. "It's something to build on for next year. Hopefully that number [receiving yards] can keep going up."

Evans' stellar season didn't go unnoticed. He was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week in Week 11 and selected to the Pro Football Writers of America's All-Rookie team. Evans was nominated for the AP and NFL Rookie of the Year awards but was edged out by the Giants' Odell Beckham Jr.

"He's played against good defensive backs," head coach Lovie Smith said. "There was a period of time where everyone knew they had to stop him and they knew we were going to throw the ball to him. There was a period of time where the only success we had was throwing the football, defenses knew that, and he continued to make plays throughout. You set the bar your first year. He set a pretty high bar, but that's where his bar should be set. It's going to be a lot of fun watching him grow."

Coach Smith believes Evans has room to grow. Needles to say, that could result in yet another exciting season.

"I think just normal growth is what it will take for him, which he'll do," Smith said. "Again, you set the bar the first year, now this offseason is important."

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