OWINGS MILLS – The Baltimore Ravens envisioned forming a dangerous receiving tandem when they traded for veteran wide receiver Lee Evans, hoping to pair him opposite speedy rookie Torrey Smith.
Evans’ left ankle injury that sidelined him for seven games prevented that from becoming a reality for most of this season.
Now, the prospects for Evans are beginning to change.
Although Evans hasn’t played a lot as Smith and Anquan Boldin are now the starters, he did catch his first pass since coming back during a 16-6 win over the San Francisco 49ers. And the third-down conversion led to the Ravens’ game-winning touchdown.
It was his first catch since the second game of the season.,
“It felt good, it had been a long time,” Evans said. “It was a good start and a good way to contribute.”
And Evans’ ankle held up despite playing two games in five days. He’s no longer listed on the injury report.
“It was as tough as it gets, but it came out fine,” Evans said. “I’m feeling good.”
The Ravens are hoping to expand Evans’ role going forward.
“Lee is a guy we want to work in more and more,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “I think we can continue to work him into the two-receiver packages and rotate him with Torrey and Anquan, give those guys a break.”
Smith has emerged as a threat while Evans was out, catching 31 passes for 613 yards and five touchdowns.
Both Smith and Evans have the speed to stretch the defense.
“It’s still young into it, but when you look at what we can do that’s stretch the field vertically,” Evans said. “When you can do that, the defense always has to keep that in mind. It puts players who can make plays out onto the field.
“Everyone on the field has proven they can make plays. It presents challenges for the defense. Everybody can run and make plays. When you have that, it works well for the offense.”
Evans still has ground to make up as far as regaining his timing with quarterback Joe Flacco, though.
“We’re still working on it, we work after practice and do some things,” Evans said. “I think when we’re on the field we know where we’re supposed to be. It’s still a work in progress, but I think we have a good foundation of trust with each other.”
Acquired via a trade from the Buffalo Bills in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick, Evans has caught only three passes for 53 yards.
However, his experience could prove valuable as the Ravens chase a division title.
And Evans definitely isn’t tired after all of the time he’s missed.
“You don’t see that too often, people with fresh legs in December,” he said. “I’m feeling good and looking forward to it.”
Evans was asked if his injury could wind up being a blessing in disguise.
“It could be,” Evans said. “It’s all about what you make of it. I’m certainly excited to be in this position.”
Count Flacco as excited that Evans is back.
“Getting Lee back is big,” he said. “We definitely have some more weapons on the outside and some youth and some speed. I think speed definitely does a lot for you. When you look at an offense, it forces defenses to really question whether they want to come up and put pressure on you, just because they can be beat so quickly and the game can change like that.”
JONES CLEARED: Ravens defensive tackle Arthur Jones has been cleared to play following a concussion suffered against the Seattle Seahawks that sidelined him for two games.
Jones said he no longer has post-concussion symptoms, including a sensitivity to light that prompted him to wear sunglasses indoors.
He participated fully in practice Wednesday.
“They did a really good job,” Jones said of the Ravens’ trainers. “They had me in the Bat Cave, in a dark room, doing the things that were necessary to get me back to where I was at. It’s the little things, getting balance and everything together.
“It was frustrating at times, but I’m happy to be back. I feel thankful. It makes you realize what you had. Not that you didn’t know, but it makes you humble."
Jones was disappointed that he was inactive for the Ravens’ win over San Francisco where the defense tied a franchise record with nine sacks.
"I missed out on a couple," Jones said. "I could have helped out on a few. They had a sack party."
INJURY UPDATES: Middle linebacker Ray Lewis was the only player not to practice.
Meanwhile, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring, groin) and cornerback Chris Carr (back) returned to practice after being sidelined against the 49ers.
Ellerbe participated fully, and Carr was limited.
Rookie running back Anthony Allen (hamstring) participated fully.
Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs practiced despite having a rough day at the dentist’s office. He had his wisdom teeth pulled recently.
The following players didn’t practice for the Browns: Mike Adams (shoulder), running back Montario Hardesty (calf), linebacker Quinton Spears (hamstring), safety T.J. Ward (foot, finger).
Linebacker Kaluka Maiva (knee), defensive end Jayme Mitchell (ankle), offensive tackle Tony Pashos (ankle) and cornerback Dimitri Patterson (ankle) were limited.
Running back Peyton Hillis (hamstring), fullback Owen Marecic (head), quarterback Colt McCoy (right elbow) and defensive lineman Scott Paxson (shin) all participated fully.
COOK DENIES REPORT: Newly-acquired Ravens safety Emanuel Cook denied a report that he was late to a conditioning workout prior to being released by the New York Jets.
"I really don’t know, I wasn’t late," said Cook, who was claimed by Baltimore on Tuesday off waivers. "I don’t know why."
Cook said he didn’t talk with coach Rex Ryan, meeting with general manager Mike Tannenbaum when he was placed on waivers.
According to the published report, Cook was thought to be late to the workout by the strength and conditioning coach. The report also stated that Cook was cut since a team official observing the workout thought that he was dogging it during the workout.
"Every decision we make is generally for the benefit of our football team," Ryan told reporters. "I’m not going to get into the specifics of what led us to make a decision."
The Jets promoted defensive back Tracy Wilson from the practice squad to replace Cook, a special-teams contributor.
"I met with Mike Tannenbaum," Cook said. "He said we need to make a move. He said he had a better player. They made a push for somebody else."
Cook said he’s happy to join the Ravens, who are 8-3 and in first place in the AFC North.
“Emanuel Cook will be an addition right away for special teams," Harbaugh said. "Of course, we feel he has a future as a safety, too, but that goes hand in hand with being a football player.
"He’s a guy that can help us potentially immediately as a special teams guy. We’ll have to see how quickly we can get him up to speed. Whether it’s this Sunday or not, I don’t know.”
QUICK HITS: Former Ravens coaching intern and NFL defensive tackle Chester McClockton passed away. He worked for the Ravens in training camp two years ago. “Our condolences to the McGlockton family for Chester McGlockton’s passing last night,” Harbaugh said. “Our guys know him real well. He was a great man, a great coach, obviously, one of the premier defensive linemen to every play in the National Football League. And that was a surprise. I believe he leaves two young daughters behind. So, we said a prayer for his family and for his daughters out here for his passing.” … Flacco is continuing to sport a Fu Manchu mustache along with tight end Dennis Pitta and is working to recruit other players. “I am trying to get some other guys,” Flacco said. “Michael Oher claims he is trying to, so you guys can put some pressure on him in that area. None of us are really that pretty. I guess some of us thinK that they are more than others.”