Wide receiver Lee Evans was able to get through only two games before his cranky left ankle sent him to the sideline in Week 3. Whether he resurfaces on Sunday against the Houston Texans or not should give us a better read on his availability this season.
Evans, an eight-year veteran, came to the Ravens in a training camp trade. He is the deep threat the team has lacked during Joe Flacco’s time in Baltimore. After making some big plays in the preseason and in Week 2, he’s having trouble getting back on the field.
“It’s frustrating,” Evans said on Monday. “I’ve never been in this situation before. It’s tough, obviously, to come in here understanding what we have here and wanting to be a part of it. It hurts not to be out there and be part of it. But at the same time, you’ve got to be 100 percent to play well.”
Coach John Harbaugh wanted to let Evans rest through the bye week to give the ankle the best possible chance to heal. After three weeks’ rest and rehab, Evans ran some routes and sprints in Monday’s workout, but not without pain.
“There was a little bit,” he said. “It wasn’t 100 percent, obviously. It was some pain, but I was able to at least get out there and run around for a little bit and just put it to work to see how it reacts. Today wasn’t a day to stress it all the way out. It was more to introduce it to some stress and see how it reacts in the next few days.”
Without Evans, 30, in the lineup, the Ravens have started rookie Torrey Smith, who had a huge game in St. Louis, then disappeared again against the Jets. The Ravens’ offense will sputter unless Evans returns or Smith can gain some consistency in his production. It’s no small challenge for Smith to step in at Evans’ level of performance.
It is also possible that the injury will linger through the season. Evans went on Injured Reserve the last three games of 2010 with an injury to the same area.
“I hope not,” Evans said about the possibility of dealing with it all season. “But we’ll have to see. It’s definitely possible. The goal is to try to get it to clear up to where you could play and not be hampered. Obviously, if it’s too much, then I won’t be able to play, but playing with a little bit-to-moderate pain is part of it. And I understand that.”
And the Ravens understand only too well how important it will be to get a healthy Evans back on the field.