Report: Mike Evans “likely” to play, may be on a pitch count

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At a time when many wonder whether Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski will be on a pitch count in his return to football, Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans is more likely to be playing limited snaps, for different reasons.

Via Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, Evans is “likely” to play on Sunday despite a hamstring injury, and that he “may be on a pitch count.” Rapoport also acknowledges the possibility of a “setback” for Evans, which obviously would keep him off the field.

A word not used by Rapoport looms over the report: “Decoy.” Indeed, it’s possible that the Buccaneers will trot Evans out onto the field simply to draw double coverage unless and until the Saints realize that Evans won’t be exploding off the line like he normally does. Even if the ruse lasts for only a drive or two, that could be enough to help spark a couple of scoring drives.

Regardless, the Saints — and the rest of us — will find out whether Evans can be a difference maker in Tom Brady‘s debut, or whether Brady will instead be relying on other weapons for his first game for a team other than the Patriots, with Evans merely attracting attention while others get the ball.