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Ex-Ravens WR Evans still feels part of team

Ex-Ravens WR Evans still feels part of team

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) While Lee Evans awaits another chance in the NFL, he'll be rooting for the Baltimore Ravens in Sunday's AFC championship rematch with New England.

The wide receiver who couldn't hold onto a pass in the end zone a year ago - which likely would have sent the Ravens into the Super Bowl - has no regrets. Except, maybe, that he's not part of the Ravens this time around.

Evans says in an email that he ``wishes he made the touchdown catch, but is thankful for the overall journey. You play the game to win and celebrate the joy with your teammates.''

With 27 seconds to go, Joe Flacco connected with Evans in the deep right corner of the end zone, but defensive back Sterling Moore knocked the ball to the ground.

Soon after, Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal that would have forced overtime.

Evans says he has not gotten depressed over the play - Moore did make a strong strip after Evans got two hands on the ball.

``Give him credit for the play he made,'' Evans said.

Unfortunately for Evans, he's remembered as much for that incompletion as he is for two 1,000-yard receiving seasons in seven years with the Bills, and 43 touchdown catches.

``My goal is to play in the NFL again,'' said Evans, who was cut in the preseason last summer by Jacksonville, a team not exactly overloaded with receivers. ``And if I am afforded that opportunity, I will be fully prepared and absolutely capable of competing at the highest level.''

Cundiff hooked up with Washington and then San Francisco this season, but was cut by the 49ers on Friday without kicking for them as they stuck with veteran David Akers, who had been struggling.

Evans said he will be in front of his TV on Sunday watching the title games. He likes what he's seen from Baltimore (12-6) and knows the Ravens' recent postseason history; they've won a playoff game in each of the last five seasons and will be in their third AFC championship match in those five years.

But he also knows how tough the Patriots (13-4) are at home, particularly in January.

``It is a chess match between a defense that goes hard after the quarterback and gets after you on every play,'' Evans said, ``and an offense that seeks to exploit their match-ups while always trying to capitalize on a defense's mistakes.''

Evans' only season with the Ravens was marred by injury and he made only four receptions. He did help mentor Torrey Smith, Baltimore's top draft pick in 2011 who came into the league with the same kind of speed and game-breaking ability that made Evans the 13th overall pick in the 2004 draft out of Wisconsin.

He's seen Smith develop into a dangerous weapon for Flacco, and veteran Anquan Boldin has been superb in the playoffs. Kick returner Jacoby Jones got free on the 70-yard TD pass in the final minute of regulation that tied Denver in last weekend's divisional-round win.

``I saw growth in him this year as both a man and a player,'' Evans said of Smith. ``He is a great guy who gets the most out of his abilities. His play really highlighted the improvements he made toward being a more fluid route runner and a sure-handed pass catcher.''

Evans is particularly impressed by Flacco, the only quarterback to win a playoff game in his first five pro seasons.

``Joe's record speaks for itself,'' Evans said. ``He does not get the credit he deserves for how important he is to making the Ravens' offense go.''

A part of Evans will share in the Ravens' excitement if they win Sunday ``after fully understanding what it feels like to be on the losing side.''

``Life brings you highs and lows,'' he said, ``and you have to keep that in perspective.''

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Ravens tight end suspended a year or more for violating substance abuse policy

Ravens tight end suspended a year or more for violating substance abuse policy

The NFL announced today that tight end Darren Waller of the Baltimore Ravens would be suspended for a year or longer for his second violation of the substance abuse policy.

Waller was a 2015 sixth-round pick out of Georgia Tech who served a four-game suspension to start the 2016 season for a substance abuse violation. After returning from his suspension last year, he posted 10 catches for 85 yards and two touchdowns in a limited role.

After his 2016 violation, he was quoted as saying [via Ravens.com]:

“There were other personal issues, and [marijuana] was the one thing I always turned to,” Waller said. “It was just about finding more positive outlets for me to do, like talking to people about it and things like that. I’m definitely at a better place with that now.”

Unfortunately for the Ravens, he will miss the 2017 season and potentially longer after the latest violation. It leaves the Ravens down two tight ends from last year after Dennis Pitta was released earlier this month after re-injuring his hip.

MORE RAVENS: Zach Orr considering coming out of retirement

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Former Raven Zach Orr considering NFL comeback after postive health prognosis

Former Raven Zach Orr considering NFL comeback after postive health prognosis

In January of 2017, former Ravens linebacker Zach Orr took the podium at the team's training facility alongside head coach John Harbaugh, GM Ozzie Newsome and defensive coordinator Dean Pees, to announce he would be retiring from football at the age of 24.

Why? Orr suffered a shoulder injury during their week 16 game against longtime rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, which shed light into a condition he's had since birth.

He had a routine MRI, but the Ravens training staff suggested a full body CAT scan as well. The CAT scan reveled Orr had a congenital back/spine condition where one of the upper vertebra isn't totally formed causing there to be an opening. Less than 1 percent of people are born with such a condition and he wasn't aware of it until he suffered this injury.

Doctors told Orr he was at risk of paralysis or even death if he played with such a condition. He also would have never been able to pass an NFL physical, ultimately forcing him to retire.

During his press conference, Orr said this,

"If there's some miracle way where I can play the game, I promise I'd be the first one to grab my cleats again, start back training and try to find a way to get back out there," Orr said.

Well, fast forward to today and it seems that miracle may have happened.

NFL Network reporter Mike Garafolo told Good Morning Football that after getting a second opinion from doctors, and receiving positive news, Orr is considering a return to the NFL.

"I had my mind made up. I was like man, the doctors told me I was done. This is a serious issue. So I'm going to leave it alone. But I just kept hearing that from multiple people and some were telling me to just go check out and seek out some more opinions and things like that and come to find out my condition, it is rare – .01 percent of the people have what I have – but there's no actual evidence or facts that I'm at a higher risk than any other player. And it's actually been documented that a college player who had the exact same thing that I have that returned to play with no problems."

The doctors' real concerns would be if someone with Orr's spinal condition played with a herniated disk. He did suffer from herniated disks last season, but that injury has since diminished. 

MORE RAVENS: 2017 PRESEASON SCHEDULE

If Orr does decide to get back into the NFL, getting signed could be pretty easy. 

When he announced his retirement, he never filed for retirement papers and the Ravens never placed him on their reserve/retired list because they never thought he would play again.

Because of this, Orr is considered an unrestricted free agent and can sign with a team right away. 

Orr had his best season in 2016, where he lead the Ravens in tackles with 133. It's been reported that eight teams have reached out to the linebacker since his announcement and that he will be meeting with the Lions on Thursday.