Bucs' Mike Evans is catching up fast

TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans missed a good chunk of the offseason program with a hamstring injury. Although he has looked sharp in training camp, wide receivers coach Andrew Hayes-Stoker said the rookie still is catching up on what he missed.

"Any time that you lose, you don’t get it back," Hayes-Stoker said. "But he is progressing."

Evans has worked with the first team at times, but not all the time. Hayes-Stoker said the Bucs are proceeding cautiously on purpose.

"We’re trying to be smart," Hayes-Stoker said. "Obviously, he had the hamstring and we don’t want to be foolish there. But you see the strength, you see the play-making ability. And he’s still got things to do as a pro. You got to approach the game in your off time the same way. Every guy has a different struggle, whether it’s physical, whether it’s mental, whether it’s discipline, whether it’ focus -- everybody in this game has something they have to overcome."

But the Bucs see Evans as someone who can be a long-term starter. He might still have some lessons to learn, but Evans is going to be a big part of the offense from opening day on.

"His physical gifts are there a lot of times," Hayes-Stoker said. "He’s 20 years old. He’s young. Been in college. From a college spread-type offense. To learn to be a pro from a guy like (veteran receiver) Vincent Jackson is invaluable. I think he’s in the right environment. I think it’s the perfect team for him to foster and really grow. To stick his roots deep in the ground I really think it’s the perfect place for him."