OWINGS MILLS – Baltimore Ravens veteran wide receiver Lee Evans was ruled out for Sunday night’s game against the New York Jets due to a lingering left ankle injury that has affected him since the preseason.
A magnetic resonance imaging exam revealed no fracture or ligament damage, and Evans is optimistic that he’ll be able to return against the Houston Texans following the Ravens’ bye week.
Rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith will start his second consecutive game after catching three touchdown passes in his first NFL start against the St. Louis Rams.
"Something in there is hurting him a little bit, so we’ll just go with the young guys," coach John Harbaugh said. "I’m worried about it now because it’s lasted longer than I thought it would. I’m sure we’ll have another MRI and see where it’s at. As a coach you start thinking, "What’s the deal?’ I’m planning on him being back for the Houston game, but we’ll have to see."
Evans didn’t practice all week and has been dealing with pain and stiffness since the Ravens’ third preseason game against the Washington Redskins.
"Nothing’s certain in this world, but it has a much higher probability of happening now than it did before," Evans said. "I’m feeling good about what we’ve done so far, so I’m shooting for the Texans, no doubt. It took a little longer than we thought, but it’s making good progress right now. So, this bye is coming at the right time.
"We’ll use that, and then move through the rest of the season. I’m close. It feels a lot better now than it’s felt at any point. It’s hard to give a percentage, but somewhere around 80 or so, I would say, right now."
Evans was relieved that the latest MRI didn’t reveal any new problems.
"Just basically confirmed what we’ve already thought," he said. "It’s basically just some stress in the muscle. Luckily it wasn’t a type of fracture or anything like that, it’s just kind of stress. It’s around the bone, but the biggest thing is no crack or fracture of the bone."
Meanwhile, Harbaugh said left offensive guard Ben Grubbs will be a game-time decision due to a right toe injury. Grubbs has missed the past two games.
"He didn’t do as much," Harbaugh said of Grubbs, who didn’t practice at all Friday after practicing on a limited basis Thursday. "I think we’re more concerned with the toe healing than we are with the reps. It’s going to be a game-time decision. We’ll put him out there and let him play if he can. It’s been three weeks with the toe. He’s got a pretty good chance."
Five-time Pro Bowl center Andre Gurode will start again in Grubbs’ place if he’s sidelined again.
Gurode stood out on the game tape of the Ravens’ 37-7 rout of the Rams.
"He played really well," offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. "Actually, of our 12 plays that we showed, our Raven plays, I think he was the highlight of almost half of them. I can’t express enough how fortunate we are to get him here."
INJURY UPDATES: The Ravens also ruled out safety Haruki Nakamura (sprained posterior cruciate ligament), wide receiver David Reed (left shoulder) and cornerback Jimmy Smith (high left ankle sprain).
Inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (left hamstring) is doubtful.
Cornerback Chris Carr (hamstring) is listed as questionable. He didn’t practice Friday after participating fully the previous two days, so he may have had a setback.
Center Matt Birk (left knee) and defensive end Cory Redding (toe) are probable.
Meanwhile, the Jets ruled out wide receiver Logan Payne (wrist).
Center Nick Mangold (high ankle sprain) is questionable.
The following key players are probable: wide receiver Plaxico Burress (hamstring), cornerback Antonio Cromartie (ribs), wide receiver Santonio Holmes (shoulder), defensive lineman Mike DeVito (shoulder), linebacker David Harris (toe) and defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (shoulder).
SUGGS PACKAGE: Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said he’s been practicing at fullback this week, preparing for a cameo appearance on offense.
"That’s something that’s big in this plan," Cameron said. "We want to put as many good players out there that we can. It’s his idea. He’s not bashful. I guess he got tired of asking to be a tight end, so, hey, we’ll stick him in there at fullback and see what he thinks. I guess that’s the Suggs package, the new Suggs package."
Suggs was a Parade Magazine All-American running back in high school in Chandler, Ariz., rushing for 2,274 yards and 26 touchdowns as a senior. He established a single-game school record with 367 rushing yards and five touchdowns.
"Like ‘King James’, you get the ball in my hands, good things happen, with the exception of the finals," Suggs said. "It’s cool. We’re working on something."
Suggs is hoping for a collision with his friend: Jets inside linebacker Bart Scott.
"They’re giving me some snaps at the ‘full,’ just so me and Bart can have our meeting in the hole," Suggs said. "We plan on seeing Bart. They’ve been feeding the beast a little bit, and I’m like, ‘Hey, throw me in there. I’ll catch it in the flat and get you 15.’"
Suggs has scored touchdowns in the past on defense on interceptions and fumble returns.
"The same thing he’s shown me when he’s run back those interceptions and those fumbles," Cameron said when asked what he’s seen from Suggs. "The guy’s a great player, period."
The Ravens sent All-Pro defensive tackle Haloti Ngata into the game at fullback in a red-zone play and quarterback Joe Flacco nearly threw him a pass before dumping it off to fullback Vonta Leach.
"I think you want to get as many of your good players (out there) as you can," Cameron said. "Obviously, there’s some risk involved there. We know that. We tried to get Haloti a touchdown the other day and it didn’t quite work out. They double-covered him. Go figure. They double-covered Haloti and left Vonta Leach all alone in the flat."
FIXING THE PROBLEM: Pro Bowl kicker Billy Cundiff missed a pair of 51-yard field goal tries against the Rams, attributable to mechanical problems.
"The second one, mechanically, we noticed some," special-teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said. "The first one was just a miss. The second one, I think that he was just trying to make it instead of trying to kick it. It showed up in the way he took the swing at it. He was aiming more than swinging at the ball just like his normal swing.
"It also fostered some good conversation. It was an interesting thing to happen to Billy. He’s had so much success and he’s done such a great job for us, it’s something that’s been interesting in practice because it’s something now that we’re working on. Now, there’s something that we can focus on and can work on. It’s actually been a good thing in that regard."
AYANBADEJO APPEALS: Ravens Pro Bowl special-teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo is still waiting for an appeal of his $15,000 fine from the NFL for his horse-collar tackle on Pittsburgh Steelers kick returner Antonio Brown.
"It’s still pending," Ayanbadejo said. "They will probably fine me, though. As far as I’m concerned, it’s money gone."
MMA VISITORS: A group of mixed martial arts fighters visited practice today, including Ultimate Fighting Championship standout Urijah Faber.
UFC light heavyweight champion Jon "Bones" Jones, Ravens defensive lineman Arthur Jones’ brother, is also in the area for Sunday’s game.
Reach staff writer Aaron Wilson at 410-857-7896 or [email protected]