Mike Evans is hoping to be 100 percent when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on division rival New Orleans Saints in the Divisional Round Sunday night. The star wideout hyperextended his knee in Week 17, requiring a hospital visit.
"God is good," Evans said Wednesday, via Jenna Laine of ESPN. "I'm happy. I dodged a bullet there with the hyperextension. Training staff did a great job. Got a lot of rest. A lot of praying. And it worked out for me. I'm feeling fresher. Hopefully I can go into this game closer to 100 percent."
Evans generated 119 yards on six receptions in last week's victory over the Washington Football Team, third-most for a receiver during Super Wild Card Weekend.
He dominated last week despite not being at full capacity after hyperextending the knee in the season finale.
"It was painful," Evans said. "I had a wide-open touchdown. I felt my leg slip a little bit, but I was just focused on the ball. I felt a pinch, but I was just trying to focus on catching the ball. It was tough. I didn't make the play. And then I was upset with myself that I didn't catch the ball, so I was just trying to walk off real fast and then I felt it, it was in pretty bad condition."
The hyperextended knee came one play after Evans became the first player in NFL history to earn 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first seven pro seasons.
Last week's victory over Washington was the Bucs' first playoff bout since 2007 and the club's first win since hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in 2002.
"It meant a lot. I haven't been to the playoffs -- it was my first time, first game in the playoffs. I was excited to play," Evans said. "It just meant a lot to be out there and to try to make plays to help my team win. The goal is to do enough each week to play the next week, so that's what we're doing this week."
The Bucs will need Evans at full-go if he's going to get the best of nemesis Marshon Lattimore finally.
The Saints' top cornerback has allowed just nine receptions on 20 targets when covering Evans (seven career games). In two regular-season meetings in 2020, Evans had zero receptions on four targets versus Lattimore and five receptions, 66 yards, and a TD on six targets versus other Saints defenders.
Juxtapose what Lattimore has accomplished against Evans versus the Saints other top corner, Janoris Jenkins: 4 TDs and a 142.0 passer rating in coverage to Evans since 2017, the most TDs and highest passer rating of any player with at least five targets in coverage versus Evans, per Pro Football Focus.
In 13 career games against the Saints, Evans has averaged just 51.4 receiving yards per game, with four TDs, and only one game over the 100-yard receiving mark. Evans has averaged 81.7 receiving yards per game against all other clubs.
In order to reverse those trends, Evans needs to be as close to 100 percent as possible.