Buffalo Bills Trade WR Lee Evans to Ravens

By trading Evans for a fourth-round draft pick, the Buffalo Bills are putting their trust in a young group of receivers, who are suddenly minus their respected leader and five-time captain.

Two teams who have spent much of the past decade going in different directions completed the trade on Friday in the midst of the NFL’s first week of preseason games.

“We’re excited about getting Lee Evans,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said a day after Baltimore opened the preseason with a 13-7 loss to Philadelphia. “He’s a proven player in this league, and a quality person who will fit in well on our team.”

Evans is a seven-year veteran, who is a downfield threat with two 1,000-yard seasons. He is expected to immediately step into the No. 2 role in Baltimore to improve a receiving attack after the Ravens released Derrick Mason and tight end Todd Heap last month.

“He’s a quality veteran receiver who stretches the field and gives us significant downfield presence,” Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. “He’s the type of person you want on your team. He brings leadership and maturity to the locker room.”

Evans’ best game last season came against the Ravens, when he had 105 yards receiving and three touchdowns in Buffalo’s 37-34 overtime loss.

For the Bills, they were able to free up the $3.25 million in salary Evans was scheduled to make in the second-to-last year of his contract. And the move also frees up room in allowing Buffalo to provide additional playing time to a revamped group of receivers.

“We have six or seven really promising young receivers. We’d like to see those guys develop and we want to give them that opportunity,” Bills general manager Buddy Nix said, before the team traveled to Chicago to prepare for its preseason-opener on Saturday. “Unless somebody got hurt, you were going to have a good player that you were going to have to let go.”

The trade was not well received by Bills veteran cornerback Drayton Florence, who questioned the move in several posts on his Twitter account.

“Sad day for the bills,” Florence wrote. “Are we trying to win now or later????”

The trade allows the Bills to be second-guessed as to how losing their most productive receiver improves what’s been an inconsistent offense on a team that’s coming off a 4-12 season and missed the playoffs for an 11th straight year.

Despite showing modest gains on offense under quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick last season, the Bills still finished 25th in yards gained and 28th in points scored. Buffalo scored more than 20 points only four times.

Evans is coming off his worst season, in which he finished with 37 catches for 578 yards and four scores, while also missing the final three games with an ankle injury. Despite his sagging numbers, he still played a significant role in the Bills’ passing attack by attracting coverage his way and opening room for other receivers.

Nix predicted a mixed reaction from Bills fans regarding the trade.

“There’ll be about half of them that like it, and half that won’t,” Nix said. “That’s the way most of the decisions are.”

Without Evans, the Bills are relying on Stevie Johnson to take over the No. 1 spot after the fourth-year player enjoyed a breakout season last year. He led the team with 1,073 yards and 10 touchdowns. Roscoe Parrish, a six-year veteran, returns to play in the slot after missing the final half of last season with a broken wrist.

Also in the group is David Nelson, who emerged as a third-down specialist last year. And then there’s 2010 fourth-round draft pick Marcus Easley, who missed his entire rookie season with a knee injury. Easley had just resumed practicing this week after missing 10 days with a hyper-extended knee.

Also in the mix is Craig Davis, who is attempting to jump-start his career after four injury-troubled seasons with San Diego. A 2007 first-round draft pick, Davis signed with the Bills on Aug. 5.

Evans, selected in the first-round of the 2004 draft out of Wisconsin, posted a note on his website thanking Bills owner Ralph Wilson and Bills fans for their support. But after seven non-playoff seasons in Buffalo, Evans was also eager to be heading to Baltimore.

“This is a very exciting time for me and my family, and I’m really looking forward to the opportunity,” he wrote. “I can’t wait to get started.”

His best season came in 2006, when he had 82 catches for 1,292 yards and eight touchdowns.

Evans ranks third on the Bills’ career list with 5,934 receiving yards. He’s also fourth with 377 receptions and fifth with 43 touchdowns.

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Bills DT Williams Playing Big Role in Middle

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. Kyle Williams wears a smile on his face as big as the chip on his shoulder for every time someone has told the defensive tackle he’s too small to play in the NFL.

Not that he listens to his critics, of course.

“If I heard it, I didn’t care. And other than that, I didn’t pay attention to it,” Williams said Wednesday. “But according to everybody, I should probably be home doing something else.”

He’s not going anywhere any time soon.

Comparatively undersized at 6-foot-1 and 306 pounds, and largely underappreciated, Williams has been the defense’s most consistent player as the Bills (3-10) prepare to close out the season with three straight games against AFC East rivals, starting at Miami (7-6) on Sunday.

Williams leads Buffalo with five sacks to rank in a tie for sixth among NFL players at his position. He’s also been credited with a league-leading 65 tackles among defensive linemen.

The production is not new for Williams, who’s been a starter ever since the Bills selected him in the fifth round of the 2006 draft out of LSU. What’s different, is how well he’s performed for someone regarded as being too small to play the position and the additional physical demands that came with Buffalo switching to a 3-4 scheme this offseason.

It wasn’t the first time Williams has been discounted.

“When I got here, I wasn’t supposed to be able to do this or do that,” Williams said. “And yet nobody ever sent me the memo that I couldn’t do it.”

Williams’ five sacks are a career high — one more than he had last year — to give him 13 for his career. His best game came in a 19-16 overtime loss against Pittsburgh three weeks ago, when he was credited with 10 tackles and two sacks.

He then played an effective role in a 13-6 win over Cleveland last weekend. Williams recovered a fumble and helped Buffalo limit the Browns to 187 yards offense.

Center Geoff Hangartner never doubted Williams’ ability, especially after having to go up against him in practice for the past two seasons.

“All I know is he makes training camp really difficult,” Hangartner said, noting Williams makes up for his lack of size by understanding how to leverage himself against heftier opponents. “Some guys, you can get away with leaning on them or being in a bad position. But if you’re in a bad position with him, he’s going to toss you. I’ve never played against a guy who’s got as good an instinct.”

The Bills defense remains a work in progress. It’s banged up and still inconsistent against the run in having allowed 200 yards rushing six times. Despite its deficiencies, the unit is showing signs of jelling. After allowing 198 points in its first six games, all losses, Buffalo’s allowed just 141 in going 3-4 in its last seven.

Takeaways are also on the rise, as the Bills have forced 13 turnovers (five fumbles and eight interceptions) in their past six games, after managing just six (five fumbles, one interception) in their first seven.

“It takes time to understand exactly how everybody fits in the scheme and what everybody does best,” coach Chan Gailey said, referring to the unit’s marked improvement. “I think everybody has a much better understanding of what we’re trying to do on Sundays now.”

Williams has been a good fit all season.

“There’s no way to put in words what a guy like that means to your team,” Gailey said. “There’s no way to put a value on it.”

Though unhappy with the team’s record, Williams is pleased with his performance.

“I think there’s a satisfaction in knowing that you’re doing your job,” he said, “and you know that your teammates can count on you.”

As for his critics, well, that’s another story. He’s paid no heed to the so-called experts ever since college, when LSU was dismissed from having a chance beat Oklahoma in the national championship game in 2004.

“Oklahoma was supposed to be the greatest football team ever in college, and we played them and dominated that game,” Williams said, recalling the Tigers’ 21-14 win. “Everything on paper isn’t always fact. I can promise you that.”

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Bills LB Torbor Placed on IR

Filed at 12:57 p.m. EST

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. starting linebacker Reggie Torbor is done for the season after being placed on injured reserve Friday because of a shoulder injury that will require surgery.

Torbor finished with 41 tackles after signing with the Bills as a free agent. He was hurt in Sunday’s overtime loss to the .

The Bills claimed tight end Scott Chandler after he was waived by the to take Torbor’s roster spot.

Starting right guard Eric Wood (ankle), cornerback Terrence McGee (nerve behind knee) and tight end Shawn Nelson (migraine) all will not play Sunday when the Bills (2-9) play at the (4-7).

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