OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Wide receiver Lee Evans had missed a total of three games in his first seven years in the NFL prior to this season.
After already being ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the 30-year-old veteran will double that total at the midway point of his first season in Baltimore. Acquired for a fourth-round pick in a preseason trade with the Buffalo Bills, a left ankle injury has prohibited Evans from providing the deep-threat option the Ravens envisioned.
Fans and even coach John Harbaugh have expressed frustration over the “stress” (Evan’s word for describing the injury several weeks ago) in his left foot and ankle that’s caused him to be sidelined since the Ravens’ week 2 loss to the Tennessee Titans. The injury first became an issue in the preseason and was not considered a long-term concern at the time.
Evans last tried to practice the week following the bye, but he was sidelined again after the Wednesday practice leading up to the game against Houston. Needless to say, it’s been a nightmarish start to the season for Evans, who envisioned finally being part of a winning organization after years of losing in Buffalo.
“It’s very frustrating,” Evans said. “I really haven’t dealt with injury much in my career, so this is new territory for me. But, it’s part of it. It happens to everybody in the game; you have to learn how to deal with it. [I] just look at it as a learning process as well. Certainly, I’m doing everything I can to get back on the field.”
Many have questioned how much longer the Ravens should wait before entertaining the thought of placing him on season-ending injured reserve. However, the suggestion seems more an act of frustration than a measured tactic with the season only halfway in the books.
With the health dramatically better in the secondary and the Ravens not really having any other long-term injury concerns that would create a roster crunch, there’s no immediate gain from removing Evans from the 53-man roster with only 46 players allowed to be active for games, anyway.
“We have not considered that, because we are confident that he will be out [on the field] in the next few weeks and be able to play,” Harbaugh said. “He is making good progress of late. He should play for us before too long.”
Even if Evans isn’t available until December, the Ravens would be prudent in exercising patience for several more weeks before making such a harsh decision — regardless of everyone’s level of frustration.
With the inconsistency at wide receiver behind veteran Anquan Boldin, Evans’ return would be a welcome addition so late in the season — and could be a difference-maker for the Ravens’ Super Bowl aspirations.