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Even in a down year, Mike Evans sees a bright future for Bucs

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Mike Evans admits it’s been a down season for him.

The future, he says, is looking up.

Evans had his second straight 1,000-yard season, one of six players to gain that much in his first two seasons. But he has dropped an inordinate amount of passes along the way, tying for the league lead with 10 drops. Nevertheless, Evans can’t help but be excited about the future of him and Tampa Bay Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston.

“Jameis is going to be a great player in this league for a long time,” Evans said. “We fell short this past week, but hopefully we’re together for a long time and we can just put up numbers for a long time and win a lot of games. That’s the goal and it’s possible.”

Evans caught nine passes for 157 yards against the Rams. It was the sixth time this year that Evans has been targeted more than 10 times.

“They were blitzing a lot and I had a lot of one-on-one matchups, so he was finding me,” Evans said. “I love that he has that trust in me, just like I have trust in him. We can be a great combo.

“This offense excites me a lot. We’re very young. The sky is the limit for us. If we put in the work and stay disciplined and not beat ourselves we can be a dangerous team for a long time.”

Coach Lovie Smith praised his rookie quarterback as well.

“I think every time Jameis opens his mouth it’s positive energy he’s putting out, but Jameis has been that way for a long period of time,” Smith said. “You saw some of it then. It was a big game. Guys want to do what they can to encourage their teammates. It’s peer pressure, which is a good thing also. Again, that’s kind of Jameis.”

The Bucs close out their home schedule Sunday with a 1 p.m. game against the Chicago Bears.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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