Evans happy to be a Raven OWINGS MILLS – Lee Evans darted upfield, breaking free of the secondary up the sideline and leapt into the air to haul in a Joe Flacco spiral. Neatness counts, so the Baltimore Ravens' newly-acquired wide receiver casually tapped both feet in bounds to finish off his work just like a real game..
It was a glimpse of what Evans could provide to the Ravens' offense after being added via a trade from the Buffalo Bills in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick. Throughout Evans' first practice with his new teammates, he seemed to pick things up quickly in the huddle and in the classroom.
"He looked good out there, he definitely has an extra gear to him," Flacco said. "That's going to be a big plus for us, to be able to kind of stretch the field vertically a little bit and challenge some teams. So, I'm excited about it. Yeah, he can run, and he can run routes well, too."
Evans immediately took his place as a starter opposite former Pro Bowl wide receiver Anquan Boldin, replacing rookie Torrey Smith.
Wearing Derrick Mason's old No. 85 jersey, which might not be permanent since he wore No. 83 in Buffalo and could bargain with tight end Ed Dickson for the number, Evans connected with Flacco for several receptions.
Evans has embraced the fresh start after playing for a perennial loser in Buffalo.
"I was very excited to come here and be a part of something special," Evans said. "Obviously, this has been a very historic franchise, a winning organization, and I just want to come in and do my part and do anything I can do to help them win."
Besides his athleticism and speed, where Evans impressed Ravens coach John Harbaugh was with his intellect.
He rapidly assimilated the playbook.
"He was quick, fast, quick and he made some plays," Harbaugh said. "He and Joe and Anquan were all talking together getting routes right, but he didn't miss a beat. He acted like he knew exactly what we were doing and he had only been in the meetings for about 10 minutes.
"It's not like he knew any of the plays, it was just kind of backyard communication. So, that's a credit to him. It's also a credit to the guys who were telling him what to do, so that's a positive. He's a deep threat every play, plus he's quick. He can run routes well. He's got good hands. He's a good receiver."
And Evans, despite missing three games with an ankle injury, remains a fast receiver.
The 5-foot-11, 197-pounder ran the 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds at the NFL scouting combine heading into the 2004 NFL draft where the Bills selected him with the 13th overall pick of the first round.
"Obviously, one of my biggest attributes is speed, so being able to get down the field and stretch the defense," Evans said. "Q is as dynamic as they come, so open some things up for him and let him control it."
In seven NFL seasons with the Bills, the former Wisconsin star caught 377 passes for 5,934 yards and 43 touchdowns. That includes a career-high 83 receptions for 1,292 yards and eight touchdowns five seasons ago.
What his Buffalo experienced never included was a journey to the playoffs whereas the Ravens have made it to the playoffs and won at least one game in the postseason in each of the past three seasons.
"Absolutely, I have been in the league for eight years now and I haven't been there yet," Evans said. "Coming to a franchise like this, I was excited about it and as fired up as I could be. I just want to do anything I can to do my part to help them get there."
One of the issues with the Bills was a constant churn of offensive coordinators, quarterbacks and philosophies.
With the Ravens, Evans joins a team that has an established quarterback in Flacco and the same coordinator in Cam Cameron for the fourth year.
"You hit it right on the head, it has been a whirlwind in Buffalo with different coordinators and quarterbacks," Evans said. "To come into a stable situation, it builds confidence in me that I can just continue to get better every day."
Evans arrives with something to prove.
He's coming off a career-worst season where he caught just 37 passes for 578 yards and four touchdowns.
He caught six passes for 105 yards and three touchdowns last season, though, against the Ravens in a Baltimore overtime win. He torched former Ravens cornerback Fabian Washington, costing him his starting job.
"I remember the success he had as a bad memory," Harbaugh said. "We couldn't cover him, obviously. It was one of those games where he really shined and he really matched up well against our guys."
Ranked third in Bills franchise history for receiving yards, fourth in catches and fifth in touchdowns, Evans should complement Boldin well.
He'll also operate as an extra mentor to rookie wide receivers Torrey Smith and Tandon Doss.
"He seems like a real humble dude and he definitely brings another dimension to the offense," said Smith, the Ravens' second-round draft pick from the University of Maryland. "Me and him on the outside should bring a lot of speed.I knew the possibility of us getting a veteran receiver, which will definitely take the pressure off myself.
"I was kind of excited about it. I'm embracing learning from someone else. At the same time, I still have a big role as a starter, so I've just got to play my part."
Added Doss: "It's great having another veteran guy here to learn from. He's here to make plays and I'm sure we can use him a lot."
According to Harbaugh, the Ravens won't shift Smith's position because of Evans' presence.
The Ravens plan to use Smith strictly at split end whereas Evans will operate outside and in the slot.
"He's not really moving to a new position," Harbaugh said. "Torrey has to learn both sides anyway. I think Torrey just continues to progress and move forward."
Evans wasn't necessarily surprised to be traded, not with the emergence of Steve Johnson as the Bills' top wide receiver.
He learned of the trade during his return to Buffalo from Rochester where the Bills hold training camp, quickly boarding an airplane and getting to Baltimore on Friday night.
Gradually seeing his role reduced in Buffalo, Evans doesn't mind the change of scenery.
"On their part, I think they were trying to get me to a good organization and I thank them for that," Evans said. "It didn't surprise me by the way things were going and the direction they wanted to go. It really didn't surprise me. You just have to roll with it. This is a new situation for me. I am happy to be here."
News And Notes : Yanda, Cody sidelined at practice
OWINGS MILLS – The Baltimore Ravens' shaky offensive line situation took another negative turn Saturday with starting offensive guard Marshal Yanda sidelined due to back spasms.
With Yanda not able to practice, the Ravens shifted Oniel Cousins from starting right offensive tackle to right offensive guard with rookie Jah Reid taking over on the right side.
Meanwhile, starting nose guard Terrence Cody didn't practice due to an ankle injury.
"It shouldn't be a major thing," coach John Harbaugh said of Cody. "Yanda's got back spasms, so I'd rather not have those guys out here pushing it."
Cousins struggled in pass protection during a 13-6 preseason loss against the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night.
Guard might be a better spot for the former third-round draft pick.
"Maybe he's suited for that position," Harbaugh said. "We talked in the offseason about moving him to guard, but with Yanda coming back we decided to give him a shot at the right tackle spot. That's what we'll find out. That's one of the great things about training camp: You have a chance to look at guys and see how they do."
At 6-foot-4, 325 pounds, Cousins is a physical player. However, his technique still needs polish.
"You got to be ready to play," Cousins said. "It was good. I've got to step up and play."
The Ravens surrendered six sacks against Philadelphia with rookie quarterback Tyrod Taylor getting punished for five of them.
Harbaugh acknowledged that the pass protection needs to be upgraded.
"It sure can, it will, it has to," he said. "If you look around the league, you're going to see those kinds of issues all through training camp early on and even as we get into the season. So, you know we've just got to get better at what we're doing.
"I think some of the one-on-one stuff, we can correct that stuff really quickly. Some of those ‘twos' are young guys, and that's developmental stuff right there. We've got to go to work, and we're still looking to add players, too, so that's a big part of it. It all goes hand in hand."
Harbaugh is generally encouraged about Reid, the Ravens' third-round draft pick from Central Florida.
Like Cousins and left tackle Michael Oher, Reid had a rough debut against Philadelphia.
"I saw a guy that's going to be a really good player, it's just a matter of when," Harbaugh said. "It's going to take a certain amount of time. Hopefully, it doesn't take more than about four weeks. That would be our goal to get him ready in four weeks, but he's really smart. He's a quick learner."
The Ravens' offensive line will be tested again this week against the Kansas City Chiefs when they have to block All-Pro outside linebacker Tamba Hali, one of the most feared pass rushers in the game.
"I think the most improvement always comes between the first and second game, so it'll be fun to watch," Harbaugh said. "The Chiefs have a nice pass rusher in Tamba Hali. It's an odd front. It will be a big challenge. So, it'll be a good chance to evaluate how fast he's coming along between last week and this week."
HAREWOOD ACTIVATED: Offensive tackle Ramon Harewood passed his physical and was activated from the physically unable to perform list.
A sixth-round draft pick from Morehouse last year, Harewood spent his entire rookie season on injured reserve after undergoing surgeries on both of his knees. One was an arthroscopic procedure and the other one was more serious.
Harewood is a raw prospect, but is big and athletic. The Barbados native could possibly figure into the long-term plans on the offensive line as long as he continues to develop.
"It's been feeling better," Harewood said recently. "I'm about to get back out there and start practicing."
INDOOR PRACTICE: The Ravens shifted practice to their indoor facility after thunder sounded.
If they had been in Westminster for training camp, then practice would have been conducted at the Gill Center gymnasium.
"It's nice to have these facilities, so it worked out well for us," Harbaugh said. "One of the advantages to having the practices here is that we have this facility."
QUICK HITS: Tight end Ed Dickson (hamstring) and cornerback Domonique Foxworth (knee) returned to practice. Dennis Pitta ran with the starters, though. ...
There was a brief fight between rookie offensive lineman Justin Boren and defensive tackle Terron Sanders that turned into a 10-player pileup. ...
Bernard Pollard worked with the first-team defense at strong safety. ...
Rookie running back Damien Berry (left ankle) didn't practice. ... Wide receiver James Hardy (hamstring) and running back Matt Lawrence (undisclosed) returned to practice.
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