The Williamses were handed four-game suspensions last year after testing positive for the banned substance bumetanide, but they have been appealing those suspensions in Minnesota state court and U.S. District Court. The last ruling from a three-judge panel in the federal court is expected before the start of the season. That ruling could end the suspensions for good or send the remaining portions of the case back into a holding pattern in state court.
Meanwhile, Evans has been taking advantage of his opportunities while the Vikings rest Pat Williams for reasons that apparently have nothing to do with the pending suspensions or an injury.
"Pat's a veteran. He's played a long time. He has nothing to prove in the preseason," Evans said after a strong performance against the Kansas City Chiefs on Friday. "The young guys, it's a good chance for us to get better so they can depend on us for any situations, just by the grace of God they don't get a suspension or whatever and we just do what we normally do and back them up. We're just getting good reps and trying to improve as a defensive line."
While Evans is playing Pat Williams position, it's hard for anyone to measure up to Pat's gregarious ways off the field or his Pro Bowl play on the field, according head coach Brad Childress.
"You know many people you can compare Pat to? I would be remiss in trying to compare Fred to him," he said. "They both play the same position, but they're apples and oranges in many different ways."
Evans was a big part of the Vikings' first-team run and pass defense against the Chiefs' starters on Friday night. He had two tackles in three series of work, had one of the team's three sacks and was also credited with a quarterback hurry.
His contributions started from the outset. On Matt Cassel's first attempt for Kansas City, it was Evans who had him in his grasp momentarily before Cassel pulled away from the pocket and completed a 10-yard pass to tight end Jake O'Connell. On the next snap, a running play, Evans held the point of attack as linebacker Chad Greenway brought down running back Larry Johnson for a 2-yard loss.
Pat Williams is also known for his strong play in taking on double teams in the middle of the line and standing strong against the run. The last two preseason games were a chance for Evans to show what he's got.
"He's a vet," Evans said of Pat Williams. "He's proven he's done everything on a Pro Bowl level. He ain't got nothing to prove out here, so it's good work for the guys behind him to be able to prove that they can be a backup for a great player like that."
Evans continued his solid work on Kansas City's second drive.
On third-and-short on the Chiefs' second drive, Evans cut down the offensive linemen to help allow Chad Greenway to dive into the hole and drag down Larry Johnson for no gain, forcing a field goal.
While Pat Williams has been sitting out, Evans has played next to another Pro Bowl player, Kevin Williams.
"You just really want to step your game up just because you know that those are great players and you want to be on the caliber of them and you don't want it to feel like it's such a downfall when you're in there," Evans said when asked about playing next to Williams. "Naturally, you just want to play better."
Playing next to Kevin Williams can have its benefits at times too. On the third series, Evans was part of a collapsing pocket, despite a double team, that saw Kevin Williams sack Cassel, but Ray Edwards was offside. On the next snap, Evans simply pushed his single blocker, center Rudy Niswanger, back into Cassel and got the sack.
"I just pushed the pocket and Kevin and Jared (Allen) and Ray, they do their thing. It was just great coverage and I was there. I just got lucky," said Evans, who added that the defense hasn't been doing anything different this preseason to generate nine sacks over a two-game preseason stretch. "We've just got a great coach, Coach (Karl) Dunbar, and a great defensive line as a whole. We're just trying to eat."
So far, Evans is eating the most, leading the team with two sacks this preseason.
"He pushed the pocket pretty well," Childress said. "I thought he put some pressure on their quarterback. … I know he shooed the ball to a couple other people. But he did a decent job in there. There's things he can improve on, but I thought he did an OK job in there."
"Obviously not happy with the penalties. We need to clean up those things, to go from 9 to 14, and they were in all areas," Childress said. "So we need to pay a little bit better attention to detail in that penalty phase, because typically, looking at it, there's four punts where there's offensive penalties, although there's two touchdowns when there were offensive penalties as well."