Chuck Evans understood the painful demands of playing fullback. Still, the eight-year veteran never anticipated an off-season like this past one.
In January, he had his left ankle scoped for bone spurs. A month later, he underwent an operation on his elbow. Evans thought he only had to concentrate on rehabilitation, until he learned he needed further surgery on his ankle in early April.
That's why Evans took special pleasure yesterday, snapping on his helmet for the first time this year. The Ravens opened their second passing camp, which runs through Thursday at their Owings Mills complex.
"Now, I'm able to run around again," said Evans, the Ravens' third-leading receiver last season with 32 receptions. "I feel like a new man now."
Despite the three surgeries, Evans expected to be practicing this week. After the workout, he said the elbow seemed strong but admitted the ankle felt sore.
Evans has become one of the most durable backs in the NFL, playing in 85 consecutive games. Known more for his blocking, Evans also produced his second-highest rushing season of his career (134 yards) in his first year with the Ravens.
The Ravens will rely on Evans heavily again this year since he is their only experienced fullback. Without Evans, the Ravens may opt to use more one-back and H-back formations.
But Evans insists he'll be back at full strength.
"Playing fullback, you have to be able to go with a little pain," he said. "It ain't no big deal."
Although tight end Shannon Sharpe and safety Rod Woodson did not work out in the previous voluntary passing camp three weeks ago, the former All-Pro performers made their presence known yesterday.
Sharpe recorded a team-best four catches during the seven-on-seven drills and hauled in a one-handed grab earlier that day. Woodson came away with the only interception of the day, pulling down a tipped Trent Dilfer pass.
It's less than two months before training camp and coach Brian Billick has begun to shift gears with his team.
"We're holding them a little more accountable," Billick said. "My tone with them is changing a little bit. They're hearing from me a little more and in a little different terms. If I see them doing something right once, my expectation is for them to do it again and again."
Outside linebacker Peter Boulware, who had off-season surgery on his shoulder, watched off to the side yesterday and has yet to practice in any of this year's camps. ... Starting quarterback Tony Banks looked sharp on his deep routes, connecting with Marcus Nash and Patrick Johnson for 40-yard touchdowns. ... Banks and Dilfer combined for 8-for-12 passing to open the seven-on-seven workout, but then finished 2-for-6 inside the red zone. ... Running back Jamal Lewis, the team's top draft pick, caught three passes during those drills as the Ravens concentrated on their short passing game.