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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Gilman's Cyrus Jones drafted by Patriots

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Gilman's Cyrus Jones drafted by Patriots

Baltimore native and former Alabama cornerback Cyrus Jones was selected by the New England Patriots in the second round of the NFL Draft on Friday. A Gilman graduate, Jones was the Patriots first pick in the draft, at No. 60 overall.

At 5-10 and 197 pounds, Jones is ideally suited as a slot corner who could be challenged when matched up against taller receivers on the outside. But he has solid fundamentals and his proven ability as a return specialist adds to his value.

Jones finished this past season with 37 tackles and two interceptions for the Crimson Tide and 108 tackles, seven interceptions and 25 passes defensed over three seasons as a defensive back.

RELATED: RAVENS TRADE DOWN TWICE, STEER CLEAR OF JACK, SPENCE

Jones, who began his collegiate career as a receiver before moving to cornerback as a sophomore, led the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision this past year and set an Alabama single-season record with four punt return touchdowns.

“Returning is a specialized thing,” Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said earlier this month when discussing Jones. “A lot of guys can’t do it, especially punts. It’s very hard to catch punts. So the guys that can do it and are good at it, I mean, that’s additional value for sure.”

The Ravens were interested in Jones, and he impressed them at their local pro day, but now the Baltimore native is headed to New England of all places. 

MORE RAVENS: RAVENS TAKE PASS RUSHER CORREA WITH SECOND-ROUND PICK

Five things to know about Ravens third-round pick Kaufusi

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Five things to know about Ravens third-round pick Kaufusi

OWINGS MILLS - Herre are five  things to know about Ravens third-round pick, BYU defensive end – rush linebacker Bronson Kaufusi. 

1. Kaufusi had 20 sacks, 11 tackles for losses this year. 

2. Kaufusi is already 24 years old. A native of Prova, Utah he went on a two-year church mission to New Zealand. 

“I don’t feel like my age is an issue, and it hasn’t seemed to be an issue for the NFL teams I’ve talked to,” Kaufusi told the Salt Lake Tribune. “Whoever can make plays is going to play, and get the job done. To me, it doesn’t matter how old you are. This is serious stuff. The best players are going to play. It is not a big concern for me.”

3.  Kaufusi’s father, Steve Kaufusi, played for the Eagles (1988-90). 

4.  His car is a 1990 Ford Explorer. Might be time to upgrade. 

5. Kaufusi led the nation with four blocked kicks. Expect the Ravens to use his 6-foot-6 height on special teams. He played soccer and basketball growing up with helped his footwork.

RELATED: RAVENS TRADE DOWN TWICE, STEER CLEAR OF JACK, SPENCE

Ravens trade down twice, steer clear of Jack, Spence

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Ravens trade down twice, steer clear of Jack, Spence

The Ravens passed on drafting linebacker Myles Jack and outside linebacker Noah Spence on Friday, trading back twice early in the second round with two of the top remaining defensive players still available to them.

Steering clear of Jack and Spence leaves the Ravens open to second-guessing, but it’s clear the Ravens had issues with both of them. Jack is dealing with a knee injury and Spence has been dogged by off-field concerns.

Jack was considered a top-10 talent and was frequently linked to the Ravens in the first round in many mock drafts. But concerns over Jack’s knee – which he exacerbated when he said before the draft that he might ultimately need microfracture surgery – sent Jack tumbling all the way out of the first round. Many teams were concerned with the condition of Jack’s knee, but passing on a player considered to be one of the top defensive talents in the draft when healthy is definitely a gamble.

RELATED: RAVENS TAKE PASS RUSHER CORREA WITH SECOND-ROUND PICK

The Ravens dealt their No. 36 pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who promptly selected Jack, the versatile linebacker from UCLA. The Ravens, who moved to the No. 38 spot, picked up a fifth-round pick in the deal.

Then before their pick at No. 38, the Ravens traded down again, dealing that pick to the Dolphins for the No. 42 pick and a fourth-round pick.

Spence was selected at No. 39 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Jaguars, who selected defensive back Jalen Ramsey one pick before the Ravens in the first round, wind up with both Ramsey and Jack, who two weeks ago were both considered top-10 players.

As for Spence, who made a predraft visit to the Ravens, he was dismissed from Ohio State after failed drug tests and ended his career at Eastern Kentucky, where he had 11 ½ sacks last season.

Both Jack and Spence seemed to fit the mold of what the Ravens were looking for, but it’s obvious that the Ravens also had enough reservation to look elsewhere.

MORE RAVENS: RAVENS TRADE DOWN TWICE, MOVE FROM NO. 36, TO NO. 38, TO NO. 42