Injured Ravens WR Evans hopes to return Sunday
Lee Evans can’t say for sure whether he will be back on the
field Sunday when the Baltimore Ravens face the Cincinnati Bengals
in a showdown for a piece of first place in the AFC North.
The speedy wide receiver does know this much: He’s sick of
watching games from the sideline.
Obtained in a preseason trade with the Buffalo Bills, Evans was
supposed to give the Ravens the deep threat they’ve been lacking
for years. The eight-year pro played in the first two games but has
missed the last seven with a left ankle injury.
”It hasn’t been an easy process,” Evans said. ”I’ve just
tried to stay with it, stay consistent and do everything I can to
get back on the field. It’s something that you can’t rush. You just
kind of have to let it heal. I’m just learning a little patience
here, more than I have.”
The 30-year-old has only two catches for 45 yards, both in a
loss to Tennessee in Week 2. Evans says he’s ”optimistic” about
returning Sunday, but he and coach John Harbaugh acknowledged his
status will likely be a game-time decision.
”That’s to be determined,” Harbaugh said. ”We’re always
hopeful, but we’ll have to see.”
Evans spent seven seasons with the Bills before coming to
Baltimore in August for a fourth-round pick in 2012. Although his
receptions per season have dropped every year since he had 63 in
2008 – a trend that will continue in 2011 – Evans has 379 catches
for 5,979 yards and 43 touchdowns since Buffalo made him a
first-round pick out of Wisconsin.
He was expected to be a tempting target for Ravens quarterback
Joe Flacco. Instead, Evans has been forced to watch the offense
operate without him.
”It has been tough,” he said. ”You go through different
things during a season and a career, and this was just another
obstacle to handle. Hopefully we’re on the tail end of it and we
can put it behind us.”
Fortunately for the Ravens, rookie Torrey Smith has stepped in
and provided speed on the outside. In assessing Smith’s talent,
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis might as well have been talking about
”Very fast. Great vertical speed, and he’ll catch the ball over
the top,” Lewis said.
When Evans returns, Baltimore hopes to make it difficult for the
opposing free safety to pick one or the other to cover deep. With
Evans, Smith, Anquan Boldin and tight end Ed Dickson running
patterns, plus Ray Rice out of the backfield, Flacco will have
plenty of options.
”We have a number of different receivers who can do things,”
Evans said. ”It’s a matter of getting guys in position to make
Evans says he can cut and run without difficulty, and dismissed
the notion he will be rusty upon his return.
”I don’t think catching the ball will be re-inventing the wheel
for me,” he said. ”It’s just a matter of making plays when I get
That time can’t come soon enough. He almost got his chance last
Sunday against Seattle, but instead was given another week to
”Last week was real positive,” he said. ”Hopefully we can
build off that this week and get over the hump.”