When the Baltimore Ravens brought in veteran WR Lee Evans, a lot of fans felt the team had the perfect complement to possession receiver Anquan Boldin. One of the main reasons the Ravens traded for Evans during Training Camp was that they were not comfortable going with rookie WR Torrey Smith opposite Boldin as starters at wide receiver. Word was that Smith was not grasping the playbook and was actually behind fellow rookie Tandon Doss, and perhaps even second year pro David Reed.
Evans hurt his foot and despite playing the first two games of the 2011 regular season, he obviously was not himself and seemed slowed by his injury. This resulted in being inactive for yesterday's game at the St. Louis Rams with the hope and plans being that the rest would have him ready for next week's big game when the Ravens host the New York Jets on Sunday Night Football.
That meant the team's 2nd round draft pick, Smith, would have the chance to step up and show the team what he could add to the offense in place of Evans. No one expected the record-setting performance that Smith put on, showcasing his talents that now have the Ravens facing a relatively enjoyable and peasant conundrum.
When the Jets come to Baltimore, which WR should the Ravens start next to Boldin now will be a tough decision. Should it be the veteran Evans, who could be completely healthy and ready to do what he did in pre-season, which was to stretch the field and take attention away from the other options in QB Joe Flacco's crosshairs? Or should it be the hot kid, who now will command respect from the secondary who previously rolled coverage towards Boldin or crept up to the line of scrimmage to stack the box and dare Flacco to throw?
The chances of Smith repeating that sort of afternoon are relatively slim, but not as remote as you think, as even one score a game would be enough to raise him to star status. Even if he starts and does not catch a single pass, the thought is already planted into the Ravens opponents that he could break out again at any moment and do to them what he did to the Rams. Therefore, he has become that "deep threat" that the Ravens wanted when they selected him in April.
Lee Evans already has that respect, so either of the two has already made their mark on the Ravens passing offense after only three games in the 2011 season. This is not a print to the finish, it is still a marathon, with over three quarters of the regular season remaining. The Ravens will get a week of after the Jets game, as their Bye comes in week five. It seems only natural to give Lee Evans another two weeks of rest before the Ravens return in week six to host the Houston Texans in what should be expected to possibly be an offensive showdown.
Playing the "hot hand" with Torrey Smith will both save Evans for the rest of the season and continue to give Smith the confidence to be a part of the offense and contribute on a regular basis. Luckily for the Ravens and unluckily for the Jets and the rest of the Ravens opponents, this is a great place to be for a tough decision.