OWINGS MILLS – Deprived of a deep threat for several years, the Baltimore Ravens will unveil newly-minted wide receiver Lee Evans tonight at M&T Bank Stadium.
After being acquired from the Buffalo Bills via a trade in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick, Evans makes his game debut with the Ravens against the Kansas City Chiefs
"It won’t be emotional, but you want to try to earn your stripes," Evans said. "Coming out here in this first preseason game is the first step in the process, I just want to make plays when I get a chance."
For the former Wisconsin standout, getting up to speed on a new playbook is his first priority as he gets acclimated to his new football team.
"The terminology is not similar at all, completely different," Evans said. "The only thing I’m going on is I ran a similar system before about four years ago so some of the things are familiar. I’m just trying to get adjusted to everything else.
"It’s different words, different codes, different ways they do things, so I’m just trying to get a handle on that, and once I do, it should be OK."
After a dizzying few days since the trade last Friday and an initial practice Saturday, Evans is starting to learn offensive coordinator Cam Cameron’s system.
"The whirlwind is starting to slow down a little bit," Evans said. "I think we’re working in the right direction."
Evans, 30, has displayed his trademark speed. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds at the NFL scouting combine in 2004 when the Bills drafted him in the first round.
Evans has been building chemistry with quarterback Joe Flacco, connecting for several receptions.
"It’s all about taking steps in the right direction, communicating, and understanding what each other is looking for," Evans said. "I think we’re getting to that point. You look at Joe, like I’ve said before, he’s probably the best quarterback I’ve played with. Drew Bledsoe was great, but Joe’s young and real energetic. So, it’s a growing process.
"You can’t say it’s going to happen in a week, two weeks. I think where we are right now, and where we’ll be in a week will be better. Throughout the season, it’ll be a growing process. You don’t force things now, you let them come naturally, and I think it’ll be there when the time is right."
Evans said he knows enough about the offense to perform and has been getting tips from Flacco and fellow starting wide receiver Anquan Boldin.
"They helped me out," Evans said. "So, I’m to a point now where I’m comfortable with things, a lot more comfortable with the language. Going out there and playing, I’ll be able to do that."
BISCIOTTI IN FAVOR OF 18-GAME SCHEDULE: Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti is a proponent of the NFL eventually shifting to an 18-game regular-season schedule.
"I think it became such a flashpoint, that our negotiating team figured that it wasn’t worth pushing," Bisciotti said during a conference call with personal-seat license holders. "What we did as a show of faith was to go from what we had as a unilateral opportunity to impose 18 games in the old CBA, we agreed to let it become a negotiating point with the union going forward Nobody likes things being forced on them, and the fact that the old CBA made it clear that we could impose it on them, I think that it kind of made them angrier that they didn’t feel like they were getting heard.
"We felt that it was in our players’ best interests to leave it out of this fight and open it up for negotiation a year or two from now and see what the additional revenue would be so that they’re making a decision with eyes wide open."
Bisciotti is hoping for a Monday night home game and was disappointed the Ravens weren’t awarded one this year. The Ravens’ last home Monday night game was four years ago against the New England Patriots.
"I will bet you a Ravens hat and a shirt that we are on Monday Night Football at home next year," said Bisciotti, who’s on the NFL broadcasting committee. "You call back and ask for it if we don’t get it because I’m going to fight like hell for it. They kind of slipped that one in on me and it was too late.
"I obviously didn’t fight hard enough when they asked us for our preferences. I was very disappointed because I had mentioned it to the scheduling guys when we didn’t get it last year. They took note."
And Bisciotti is looking for the Ravens to eventually be asked to play overseas in London in the NFL’s international series. "They haven’t come to me," Bisciotti said. "My time is going to come up and I’m going to accept it when I do it. I think it’s in the best interest.
"I would love to get some more Ravens fans over the pond. If it’s our year in the next few, then I certainly hope that it’s an away game and our fans still get their eight home games."
What if it costs the Ravens a home game?
Bisciotti’s reply: "Hopefully we’ll get a bunch of our season-ticket holders over there because they do give season-ticket holder a chance to buy tickets."
BOUNCING BACK: Rookie quarterback Tyrod Taylor was intercepted twice and sacked five times during the Ravens’ 13-6 preseason loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Now, he’s hoping to bounce back and is looking forward to playing his first home game.
"They showed a lot of support during the practice we had in the stadium," Taylor said. "I want to improve on everything. There’s room for improvement in every aspect of my game. I want to go out there and build on last week."
Taylor completed 19 of 28 passes for 179 yards against the Eagles.
Like Philadelphia, the Chiefs have a formidable pass rush.
"They’re one of the top defenses across the league," Taylor said. "We’ve done some things in preparation for them. I’m looking forward to the game and going out there and playing ball."
REUNION: A trio of former Ravens starters return to Baltimore tonight with their new team.
Nose guard Kelly Gregg ($3.5 million), fullback Le’Ron McClain ($1.5 million) and offensive tackle Jared Gaither ($685,000) all signed with Kansas City recently.
"Those guys are all good players," coach John Harbaugh said. "They’ve all proven themselves, and they’ve been contributors here, and it’ll be fun going up against those guys. Three guys that we just had here, and thought we had a chance, maybe to keep here as recently as two weeks [ago], [and now] you’re playing against them. So, that’ll be kind of an odd thing."
INJURY UPDATE: Not expected to play: center Matt Birk (left knee surgery), offensive guard Marshal Yanda (back spasms), wide receiver James Hardy (hamstring), safety Marcus Paschal (quadriceps), cornerback Chris Carr (hamstring) and running back Damien Berry (ankle).
Paschal may be out for a long time.
Cornerback Domonique Foxworth (knee) is expected to play this week. Wide receiver David Reed, who underwent offseason surgery on his left wrist, has missed the last few practices.
Offensive tackle Ramon Harewood was activated this week from the physically unable to perform list and began practicing after undergoing surgery on both knees last year.