Ravens land WR Lee Evans in trade
OWINGS MILLS – One day after their starting wide receivers failed to catch a single pass during a preseason loss in Philadelphia, the Baltimore Ravens acquired veteran wide receiver Lee Evans via a trade from the Buffalo Bills in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick next year.
The last time the Ravens encountered Evans he was sprinting past cornerback Fabian Washington for six catches for 105 yards and three touchdowns during a Baltimore overtime win, which cost Washington his starting job.
Now, Evans joins a Baltimore squad that lost wide receiver Derrick Mason to the New York Jets, passed on wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery and sorely needed someone to take pressure off of rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith. Smith didn't catch a pass despite being targeted three times during the Ravens' 13-6 loss Thursday night to the Eagles.
"Our fans will remember him from his outstanding game against us last season," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "He's a quality veteran receiver who stretches the field and gives us a significant downfield presence. He's the type of person you want on your team. He brings leadership and maturity to the locker room."
Known for his speed even at age 30, Evans should provide a deep threat opposite former Pro Bowl wide receiver Anquan Boldin. Evans is due $3.275 million over the final two years of his contract and the Ravens may wind up restructuring his deal.
"We're excited about getting Lee Evans," coach John Harbaugh said. "He's a proven player in this league and a quality person who will fit in well on our team. We're all looking forward to going to work with him."
Evans has surpassed 1,000 yards receiving twice in his career, with his best season coming in 2006 when he registered 82 receptions for 1,292 yards and eight touchdowns. For his career, the former Wisconsin standout has caught 377 passes for 5,934 yards and 43 touchdowns.
"I want to say thank you to Mr. [Ralph] Wilson and the Bills organization for everything over the last 7 years," Evans said in a statement. "To the great fans who make Buffalo special, thanks for always supporting me and my family. I'll always have ties to the Buffalo community as I've met a lot of great people who will remain friends.
"This is a very exciting time for me and my family and I'm really looking forward to the opportunity to play for the Baltimore Ravens. I'm excited about the Ravens organization, players, and coaching staff and can't wait to get started."
The 5-foot-10, 197-pounder has averaged 15.7 yards per reception for his career, but his production has been steadily declining in recent years
He has fallen from 63 catches for 1,017 yards three seasons ago to 44 receptions for 612 yards and a career-low 37 catches last year.
Evans' durability is impressive, missing only three starts due to injuries as he has started 102 of 109 contests.
"I'm excited to get a chance to work with him," rookie quarterback Tyrod Taylor said. "His presence is going to mean a lot for our organization. I can't wait to get a chance to practice with him. He's going to teach our young guys a lot."
Other NFL teams that expressed interest in Evans included the Arizona Cardinals and the Carolina Panthers.
Ultimately, the Ravens' need coincided with the Bills' asking price and a deal was brokered less than a week after Mason signed with the Jets.
"There was a lot of interest in Lee and you could understand why," Bills general manager Buddy Nix said. "He's a good player and has done a lot of really good things here. He'll add to Baltimore. I think it's a good opportunity for him.
"They've got a one receiver (Boldin) and he'll probably move right in. They have a good team. Ozzie Newsome and I go back years and Cam Cameron and I worked together. I think it's a great opportunity for Lee also."
As popular as this move was with the Ravens, it was met with disapproval in the Bills' locker room.
"Sad day for the Bills," cornerback Drayton Florence wrote on his Twitter account. "Are we trying to win now or later?"
And former Bills and Washington Redskins safety Matt Bowen didn't understand why Buffalo unloaded Evans.
"Smooth route runner, glides in and out of his cuts with speed," Bowen said. "Don't understand moving him out of Buffalo."
And former Bills wide receiver legend Andre Reed predicted success for Evans in Baltimore.
"He should flourish and gel with Anquan Bolding manning the middle of the field," Reed said.
Still missing a proven right offensive tackle and a backup quarterback, the Ravens are slowly addressing the shortcomings on the roster having acquired All-Profullback Vonta Leach, backup running back Ricky Williams and retaining offensive guard Marshal Yanda and cornerback Chris Carr.
"We signed Lee Evans?" linebacker Terrell Suggs wrote on his Twitter account. "Championship!"
Sergio Kindle: 'Overall, it was a nice outing'
OWINGS MILLS – Sergio Kindle busted through the line of scrimmage, relentlessy chasing Philadelphia Eagles backup quarterback Vince Young.
At the last moment while Kindle was closing in on his target, a running back came out of nowhere to block him out of the way.
Not even missing out on a potential sack could erase the smile from the Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker's face following his NFL debut. Not after missing his entire rookie season with a fractured skull suffered during a flight down two flights of stairs days before training camp.
"I was a hair away," Kindle said following the Ravens' 13-6 preseason loss to the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. "I told him that after the game, too. My emotions would have been through the roof if I had got that sack. Besides that, it was great. It was just good to be back on the green grass live. That's what I've been waiting a whole year and change for."
Most importantly, the former University of Texas star didn't incur any setbacks.
He dealt out and absorbed hits in a real NFL game situation without incident.
"Make plays, really," Kindle said when asked what goals he had set for Thursday night. "Anxiety and all that stuff wasn't there. Being nervous wasn't there because the hits that my own teammates give me blocking wise, if I can take that, I can take anything."
Kindle was around the football a lot, but only finished with two tackles. The former Ravens second-round draft pick held up physically, but may have been a bit rusty.
"I noticed him, he was out there a lot," coach John Harbaugh said. "If you're looking for spectacular, I don't think it was spectacular. He played hard and did a good job."
"I think it was good for Kindle to finally get out there," outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "He ain't played in a year. It was good for him to get back in the flow of things. Game-time energy is a lot different from practice."
One adjustment Kindle has had to make since the accident is dealing with major hearing loss in his left ear. He has regained his normal equilibrium.
The former All-Big 12 selection uses hand signals to get the play call from his teammates.
"Learning the hand signals was major," Kindle said. "The hearing wasn't bad because the guy who gets the play call was right beside me or behind me. I make sure I stay close to him just to be sure I get the correct call and not have to worry about hand signals."
Kindle said he hasn't experienced any problems getting the calls.
"Not really, not on defense, the fans are quiet," Kindle said of the Philadelphia fans. "We'll see how that goes when we get to M&T."
On a few occasions, Kindle appeared a tad overeager and overpursued.
Overall, though, it was a positive step in his return to the NFL.
"Maybe missed alignments or missed assignments, I'm not sure," Kindle said. "On the quarterback scramble play, I might have overpursued or that was him being as elusive as he is. There's ways I could have actually made that play. I feel like I could have done better, but overall it was a nice outing."
Rough night for offensive tackles raises questions
OWINGS MILLS – The Baltimore Ravens' suspect offensive line resembled a group of teachers trying in vain to prevent children from bolting into the schoolyard for recess.
Bullied, bull-rushed and befuddled, the Ravens allowed six sacks and numerous quarterback pressures during a 13-6 preseason loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. It was a suspect performance that raised eyebrows around the NFL adn prompted more speculation that the Ravens need to sign a veteran offensive tackle.
It's a good thing that rookie quarterback Tyrod Taylor is the sturdy sort as he emerged with no injuries despite being sacked five times and getting drilled in the back late in the game.
There were numerous penalties, including an illegal formation call on left tackle Michael Oher that ended one drive.
Whether it was Oher, Oniel Cousins or rookie third-round draft pick Jah Reid, all three of the Ravens' top offensive tackles struggled mightily.
"I definitely went through some growing pains out there," said Reid, who's competing with Cousins for the starting right tackle job. "I definitely have a lot of room to improve. I need to keep the gears in motion and come out this week just looking to get better. And that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to watch the film and see my mistakes, my inconsistencies in my techniques that I need to work on."
It was his professional debut, but Reid didn't make any excuses for a performance that included a pair of false starts. At times, though, the 6-foot-7, 336-pounder held his own in single-blocking situations.
"It's my first NFL game and there are going to be some jitters, but football is football," Reid said. "Just because it's my first game doesn't excuse mistakes or having bad plays."
In his second season at left tackle, Oher wasn't expected to have this much trouble against Eagles defensive end Trent Cole, one of the faster pass rushers in the league.
Yet, Cole sacked quarterback Joe Flacco and decked running back Ray Rice for a loss of six yards with Oher missing those blocking assignments.
"I've got to get better from week to week," Oher said. "You have to build on it and learn from it and go get better from week to week. We just have to get it down and be conscious of it and get off at the snap. The first preseason game, the second preseason game, you know where you are game by game by seeing different opponents."
Oher got annoyed after the game when he drew criticism via his Twitter account.
"I'm glad I have skin like an armadillo," Oher said.
The Ravens' quarterbacks needed to have thick skin, too.
They were taking a beating out there.
Whether Cousins lined up at right tackle or left tackle, he had problems.
During one sequence, Eagles defensive end Darryl Tapp delivered a double-handed punch to Cousins' chest, knocking him off balance.
Then, Tapp disengaged from the 6-foot-4, 325-pounder and dashed toward Taylor to pummel him to the ground.
"I felt like I did some things pretty good," Cousins said. "I wanted to work on my hands. I've got heavy hands so I wanted to work on my technique with my hands. I thought my hands were overall better.
"I'm just going to try to improve and work on some little things. I'll watch the tape with my coach and move on. They've got some good players. They're pro football players. They get paid just like we get paid."
If neither Cousins or Reid can get the job done at right tackle, the Ravens coul shift right guard Marshal Yanda back to right tackle and look to acquire another guard.
Other than the penalty issue, which he acknowledged needs to be cleaned up, Ravens coach John Harbaugh didn't seem alarmed by the offensive tackles' difficulties.
"I think we did OK out there," Harbaugh said with a straight face. "The pass protection was pretty good. A couple of the false starts were a problem, and that's got to be corrected. I thought they did pretty well for themselves for their first time out there."
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