Just one offseason after Kendell Beckwith’s “will-he or won’t-he” showdown with an ankle injury, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are right back in the same spot.
Except this time it’s not Beckwith’s future status that is up in the air.
Aside from Jason Pierre-Paul’s situation with his car wreck, there is another Buc that hasn’t been able to make his way on to the field in any form, shape, or fashion.
His name? Justin Evans.
Evans had a very promising year before delving into a 2018 campaign that featured some major regression from the former Texas A&M Aggie. Poor tackling angles, busted coverages, miscommunications - whatever you can think of - haunted Evans throughout last season.
A toe injury suffered in Week 10 against the Washington Redskins eventually ended Evans’ season early. He sat out for a couple of weeks after the initial injury, but was able to return in Week 13 against the Carolina Panthers, but re-aggravated the injury and was placed on I.R. just a couple of weeks later.
During minicamp, Evans was seen on the sideline in a walking boot and the popular thought was that he suffered some type of setback from the initial injury.
However, Greg Auman of the Athletic later clarified that it was heel surgery, not the toe, that required the walking boot. Head coach Bruce Arians came on to WDAE-AM 620 the next morning and stated that Evans should be ready to go by training camp, which is obviously good news. Evans himself also said that he should shed the boot within a couple weeks of minicamp, which has already happened by now if that was true.
So, it appears that Evans is on track to participate in training camp, which would be huge for the Bucs. He could easily carve out a role for himself on this defense with his range, speed, and coverage abilities. Plus, it’s always nice to have depth, especially after a 2018 season that saw more than a dozen players finish on the injured reserve list.
But with Beckwith’s and JPP’s current predicaments, is there any room for doubt and/or worry amongst those who aren’t in the building on a day-to-day basis?
Logical thinking would say “no”. You have the head coach and the player both saying that everything will be fine. However, this is the offseason and optimism/hope springs eternal. Tampa Bay had the same optimistic message with Beckwith last season and we all know how that went.
Foot injuries can become complicated, as well. There are so many damned bones, ligaments, joints, etc. in those two areas than most people realize. And obviously, we use our feet to walk, run, jump, etc. so they are very important when it comes to the functionality of a human being.
Can you tell I have my doctorate?
Regardless of the feelz, no one will really know what is going on until training camp opens up during the last week of July. We will all have our answer that day.
I’m sure everyone - especially the Bucs - would be thrilled to see Evans on the field for the first round of practice.
Until then, stay positive. Despite the fact that it may not be the easiest thing to do.