Season in review: Wide receivers

TAMPA, Fla. -- We’re going to start our position-by-position season analysis for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the wide receivers.

This was the brightest spot on the team, which is saying quite a bit because the play at quarterback was spotty at best. Veteran Vincent Jackson and rookie Mike Evans each surpassed 1,000 receiving yards.

That’s the kind of play that is expected out of Jackson, who has reached 1,000 receiving yards in each of his three seasons in Tampa Bay. But Evans was more of a surprise.

Rookie wide receivers often struggle and don’t hit their stride until their second or third year. But Evans played like a veteran right from the start. He had the team’s biggest receiving day of the season with 209 yards in a victory against Washington.

Evans was slowed a bit late in the season as opposing defenses moved more coverage his way, but that opened things up for Jackson. With a year of experience, Evans should be even better in 2015.

The Bucs also found some unexpected depth at this position. They cut Louis Murphy at the end of the preseason, only to bring him back early in the season. Murphy quickly emerged as the third receiver and had 31 catches for 380 yards with two touchdowns. That was enough to earn him a three-year contract extension.

Russell Shepard didn’t do much on offense, but he was one of the team’s best players on special teams. Rookie Robert Herron had very little impact, other than being the 12th man on the field for a critical penalty in the loss to Cincinnati.