By Tim Graham
PITTSFORD -- Fred Jackson was soaked to the bone, trudging off the Growney Stadium turf after the Buffalo Bills practiced in a downpour Sunday afternoon. He hadn't gotten his helmet off when I informed him the Jacksonville Jaguars had released receiver Lee Evans.
I didn't need to ask the obvious followup question. Jackson shared his desires right away.
"That's tough," Jackson said. "I know he still can make plays. I'm hoping something happens for him. I wouldn't mind him coming back here, to tell you the truth.
"I think he can make us better. We have great core guys here anyway, but I'm hoping something happens for him. I'm definitely going to get on the phone with him now, see how he's feeling."
I got the impression Jackson would grab his phone before he grabbed a towel. So I asked if he thought the 31-year-old Evans would be amenable to a return.
"I'm sure he would," Jackson said. "He was here a couple months ago, right after he signed with Jacksonville. I asked him if he had any thoughts about coming here, and he said he definitely would not mind it at all. We'll see what happens. I'll get a feel for how he's feeling."
The Bills traded Evans last summer to the Baltimore Ravens for a fourth-round draft choice that became LSU cornerback Ron Brooks, a player Bills head coach Chan Gailey has been fond of.
The Bills drafted Evans 13th overall in 2004. At his best, he was a speed receiver and a long-ball threat -- something the Bills' roster could use more of. But Evans has been hampered by injuries.
Evans struggled with an ankle injury for much of last season. He played in nine games for Baltimore, catching four passes for 74 yards and no touchdowns in the regular season. A would-be touchdown pass that almost certainly would have sent the Ravens to the Super Bowl went through his hands in the final minute of the AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots.
To get released in mid-August by his first head coach, Mike Mularkey, suggests the Jaguars didn't think much of Evans' ability to help a team. But the Jaguars did draft Justin Blackmon shortly after signing Evans. Perhaps Evans simply got caught in a numbers game.
Either way, Jackson claimed Evans still can play.
"It's definitely a situation you don't want to get in, where you're bouncing from team to team and hope to stick somewhere," Jackson said. "And then to have it end before you get into the season, it's tough. I'm sure he doesn't like it. Nobody wants to be in that position, especially if you feel you have a lot to give to the game."