Rookie receivers now able to develop at proper pace

The Lee Evans trade gives the Ravens improved speed and a wide receiver who runs smooth routes and has plenty of experience, all of which will help the team on the field this season.

Beyond that, however, Evans' presence will allow the Ravens to do something which could impact the organization in a positive way for years to come - develop rookie wide receivers Torrey Smith and Tandon Doss at a reasonable pace.

Prior to the Evans trade, Smith and Doss were slotted in as the second and third wide receivers in the Ravens' offense, which would've been a lot to ask of two kids who at this point have just over two weeks of NFL practices under their belts.

Now, the Ravens can lean on Evans for production, and let the two rookies mix in as the situation calls for them to do so.

"It kind of takes some of the pressure off the young guys a little bit," head coach John Harbaugh said of the Evans addition. "It allows them to grow at the pace that you would want them to grow. Developing players is really important, and there's a certain pace to that that you would like to adhere to if you could. Bringing in Lee helps us do that. Plus, he's fast, he's made plays, and he's a big yards-per-catch guy. That helps a lot."

The Ravens like how Smith and Doss have come along since training camp has started. Both are quick learners, have good hands, and work hard.

But there's a difference between looking good in shorts and a shell during practices with just the coaching staff and a handful of reporters looking on, and looking good on Sundays in the regular season with 70,000-plus packing the stadium.

Asking two rookies to come in and immediately acclimate themselves to NFL action and contribute at a starter's level is unreasonable. That's why a guy like Evans needed to be brought in.

Instead of needing 50 catches and 750 yards out of Smith, the Ravens now need him to use his speed to give them a big play or two per game as the No. 3 wideout. Instead of needing Doss to catch six balls per game, the Ravens need him to build up his chemistry with Joe Flacco and develop into a solid possession receiver who can be counted on to pick up a big third down grab when the Ravens need one.

At this time next season (and hopefully even earlier), the rookies will be completely comfortable in Cam Cameron's offense, and will be ready to put up big numbers. At this point, though, they can continue to learn, pick up as much as they can from Boldin and Evans, and slowly work into the mix.

"I knew the possibility of us getting a veteran receiver, which will definitely take the pressure off myself," Smith said. "I was kind of excited about it. I'm embracing learning from someone else. At the same time, I still have a big role as a starter, so I've just got to play my part."

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