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With the Ravens in Week 17, the time is now for quarterback Joe Flacco and wide receiver Lee Evans to find their connection.
They are keenly aware of that.
Evans has just two catches for 29 yards in six games since returning from an ankle injury. He was targeted by four passes last Saturday against Cleveland; three fell to the turf and one was intercepted.
Evans will likely be starting in place of injured receiver Anquan Boldin (knee) once again this Sunday in Cincinnati, his last chance to get over the hump before the playoffs.
“I certainly feel the urgency,” Evans said. “We all see what it could be, what the possibilities are. But that really means nothing if you can’t execute right.”
The pair showed a great connection before Evans hurt his ankle, which sidelined him for seven games.
In the preseason, Evans and Flacco connected on three passes for 68 yards (including a 43-yarder) against Kansas City, then three passes for 60 yards (including a 35-yard touchdown) the next week against Washington.
“We all got so excited that first preseason [game] when it just [was], ‘Hey, guys this looks easy,’” Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron said. “The guy walks in off the street. It’s not easy.”
Cameron said the two had a great week of practice last week and that there were no issues during Thursday’s practice.
“Now, you just have to stay patient, and we’d like to think this game, you will see a difference,” he said.
Evans said he and Flacco have put in extra work this week. Evans was in the team’s facility on Tuesday, the players’ day off.
The veteran wide receiver said the most important thing is finding a rhythm, and he expects that it will come quickly once there’s a spark.
“Once you find it one time, you know what it feels like and you can go from there. I think that’s what we’re striving for,” Evans said.
Evans also pointed out that there’s a trust factor. Flacco needs to know Evans is going to be where and when he wants him to be at any given time.
One thing that has helped their relationship is their upfront comments about their issue. Immediately after being shut out by the Browns, Evans put the blame on his shoulders and said he wasn’t where Flacco wanted him to be.
On Wednesday, Flacco acknowledged “it’s definitely a pretty big thing” that Evans said that.
While, as Head Coach John Harbaugh said, Evans could have done a better job knocking down the intercepted pass in the end zone against Cleveland, Flacco missed a potential touchdown pass to Evans the week before in San Diego.
“It starts with both of us,” Flacco said. “I’m going to say that it’s my job to get him the ball more on time and make things a little bit easier. So, we’re working towards it. He’s going to be someone that we need down the road in order to be successful.”
“We’re trying to get it right and understand the importance of getting it there,” Evans added. “I figure if you have two people working in the same direction, hopefully good things happen.”