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Evans hears trade talk, focuses on reclaiming status with Bills

  • By Associated Press
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PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Lee Evans has more immediate concerns to address than being distracted with renewed speculation about whether or not the Buffalo Bills might trade him.

First, there's the business of Evans re-establishing his place as the Bills' top receiving threat after two subpar seasons. And that goes hand-in-hand with his second objective, which is helping transform what has been a perennial loser during his seven seasons in Buffalo into a bona fide contender.

Everything else is background noise. And that's especially true in regards to the reports that Evans acknowledged he has read suggesting several teams have approached the Bills about his availability.

"The trade talks, that's just part of the game. It's not a whole lot I can focus on because I have no control," Evans said Thursday. "My main goal is to do everything in my power to help this team win. That's what my focus is more so than anything."

Bills coach Chan Gailey dismissed the reports as being rumors. General manager Buddy Nix said "there's nothing to talk about" regarding the reports.

A person familiar with discussions told The Associated Press that teams have approached the Bills about Evans. However, the person said Buffalo would only trade the receiver if it was able to get "something substantial" in return. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Bills haven't stated whether or not they've had talks to trade Evans.

Citing an unnamed person, KGME-AM in Phoenix reported this week that the Arizona Cardinals showed interest in acquiring Evans. Other reports have cited the Baltimore Ravens as being interested.

With two years left on his contract, Evans said he hasn't asked for a trade and added that he hasn't approached either Gailey or Nix to clarify his status.

This isn't new to Evans. He recalled being the subject of trade talks last season.

"We'll find out in the coming days if there's anything to it," he said. "We'll see. You never know."

Selected in the first round of the 2004 draft out of Wisconsin, Evans is the longest active-serving member of the Bills' offense (not including kicker Rian Lindell) and the unquestioned leader of the team's young group of receivers.

Evans has surpassed 1,000 receiving yards twice, with his best season coming in 2006, when he had 82 catches for 1,292 yards and eight touchdowns.

Since registering 1,017 yards in 2008, Evans' numbers have tailed off. He had 612 yards and seven scores in 2009 while paired alongside Terrell Owens. And Evans had a career-low 578 yards and four touchdowns last year, and he missed the final three games with an ankle injury. He finished a distant second behind Stevie Johnson, who had a breakout season with 1,073 yards and 10 touchdowns.

"This is a statistical league, right? So statistically, I didn't have the numbers I thought I would have or know that I can have," Evans said. "I know it's in me. I know it's there. Given the opportunity, I'm going to do everything I can because that's the only way I know how to go about things."

Despite his sagging numbers, Evans still plays a significant role in the Bills' passing attack by attracting coverage his way and opening room for other receivers. Johnson certainly benefited from Evans' presence last year in facing mostly single coverage. Buffalo scored just two of its 24 touchdowns receiving last season after Evans was sidelined.

"He's a leader, and if you lose him, where do we go from there?" Johnson said, in response to the prospect of Evans being traded.

Safety George Wilson said Evans hasn't missed a step.

"Even though they all can get deep here and there, nobody else in the receiver corps has the speed that Lee has," Wilson said. "That's what makes him such an asset. He helps to give us that home-run threat on any given play, and he creates opportunities for other guys."

Whatever his future holds, Evans knows he has the respect of his teammates, having been voted a captain for five consecutive years.

"At the end of the day, all my teammates know what I can do, who I am and they respect me for that," Evans said. "They know they can trust me, they know they can believe in me, so that goes a long way."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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