Evans: Brady already among my fave teammates

TAMPA, Fla. — Not once, but twice, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady looked for wide receiver Mike Evans deep Tuesday, connecting with him on passes of 30 and 35 air yards along the right sideline.

Evans never broke stride as he made both catches, even when cornerback Mazzi Wilkins was draped on him. Moments later, the two knelt together on the sideline and shared a laugh. When asked what it’s been like getting to spend every day working with a “living legend,” Evans said Brady is “trying to turn me into a living legend as well. I’m appreciative of that.

“He’s the GOAT, on and off the field. It’s crazy. He’s a superstar — the most accomplished player in our game in history, and he’s just like everybody else,” Evans said. “He just works extremely hard, he’s always taking care of his body. He loves his family. He loves family time. He’s just cool. He’s a real down-to-earth guy.

“He’s already up there as one of my favorite teammates, and we’ve only had a few practices together. So that says a lot. I’m learning a lot from him and hopefully we can tear it up this year.”

Brady hasn’t had a receiver with Evans’ attributes — he’s 6-foot-5 and 231 pounds with a monster catch radius — since Evans’ own idol, Randy Moss. Evans joined Moss this past season as the only two players in NFL history to record 1,000 receiving yards in each of their first six seasons. Moss had more speed downfield than Evans, although Evans can certainly outrun his share of defenders.

But Evans has longed to produce more yards after the catch, which is an area Brady can help with due to his consistent ball placement, even on deeper passes.

The New England Patriots averaged 5.60 yards after the catch per reception with Brady since 2001 — second-most in the league in that span, and not just due to shorter passes, which are naturally easier to accumulate yards after the catch, as the Patriots’ 11.66 yards per reception was eighth-most in the NFL.

The transition hasn’t been entirely seamless. Bucs coach Bruce Arians pointed out that Brady threw a pass Tuesday that Evans wasn’t quite ready for, but he hasn’t been the only player. Brady gets the ball out quickly, so players have to make a more concerted effort to get their heads around quicker.

“He came back and he understood right away [what he did wrong],” Arians said of Evans. “He thought he was gonna out-run the guy, rather than just take it right now and get the first down.”

Bucs wide receivers coach Kevin Garver said Evans has “a lot of respect” for Brady, who will help push the star receiver.

“I think that’s the No. 1 thing that’ll help Mike,” Garver said. “And then just the little things — little things, that’s really what I’ve been stressing with Mike all offseason — getting at the right depths, being in the right catch reception area, using the right technique.

“I think those are the things that Mike’s focusing on, so obviously he’s gotta do those things on his own, but I think playing with a guy like Tom, I think that it does help from a motivational standpoint when you’re playing with a quarterback of his caliber.”

Arians believes there is room for Evans to not only grow with Brady, but with his offense in Year 2.

“Just the little things. Like in the second year of the offense — the intricacies, the little things like that, I’d like to see Mike do, which he is doing every single day,” Arians said. “You can’t ask for much more out of him.”

Original article: https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/29688001/mike-evans-enjoying-tom-brady-teammate-says-qb-trying-turn-living-legend

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