The Tennessee Titans are about 24 hours away from their first matchup of the season. With the team traveling to Tampa Bay to start the Marcus Mariota/Jameis Winston era, it is another player that may make the biggest difference in a win and a loss this week.
Mike Evans has been limited all week, including missing two days of practice to start the week. Yesterday the reports are mixed on whether he was a full participant or if he was limited, but either way is the damage done?
Now, I fully expect Evans to be on the field for the first game of the season. In any other circumstance I would say that you wait for a young, impact player to be fully healthy before you throw him into the fire, but tomorrow is a special case. Jameis Winston is making his first start, and as you can see from his preseason performances he can get scared and flustered very easily.
Evans and Vincent Jackson are going to be his security blankets this year and for a player who has been about as erratic and inaccurate as you would expect from a rookie quarterback he needs all the help he can get.
According to Ourlads.com, the backup receiver behind Evans is Russell Shepard. That would mean going from a 6'5" receiver who had over 1,000 yards last year, to a 6'1" receiver who had all of 63 yards last year. That is obviously a huge drop off.
Even if he plays, I think there has to be a serious question about just how effective he can be this week. You can't underestimate how much not getting to practice simulating how a Dick LeBeau defense might cover a dangerous receiver like him might hurt him.
On top of that, big receivers rarely recover quickly from hamstring injuries and if it was serious enough to hold him out of practice all week so it is safe to assume that he will probably be slower and less explosive than he normally is. You also have to think that his leaping ability (a big part of his game) will probably be limited too.
To top it all off, the coverage assignments get a lot easier for the Titans who are not at full strength in the secondary, if Mike Evans isn't himself.
All eyes have to be on Evans if he plays because if the Tennessee Titans can get away with single-covering him, it opens up a lot of blitz possibilities and it allows you to double cover Vincent Jackson. Mike Evan vs his own hamstring might be the matchup that decides this game.