As Lee Evans sees it, there's what is said and there's his reality. To him, they're not the same.
Evans, a nine-year veteran wide receiver who signed a reported one-year deal with the Jaguars Monday, said his focus is far less on what is said than what he believes is his reality – and that's that at 31, he remains capable of being a productive NFL wide receiver.
"I guess I look at me, and I don't look at it as everybody else," Evans said Monday afternoon. "Thirty-one is different in people's eyes. It's about being able to take care of yourself and stay healthy, and if you can do that, be productive.
"Those are my goals coming in. If I can continue to do that consistently, then stats and numbers and things will come."
Evans, who played two seasons for Buffalo when new Jaguars Head Coach Mularkey was the head coach there, became the second veteran receiver to sign with the team during the 2012 pro free agency period. The Jaguars last month signed wide receiver Laurent Robinson from Dallas.
Mularkey called Evans "a great signing."
"How he practices alone will be a plus for this team," Mularkey said. "He does everything the right way."
Evans was selected by Buffalo in the first round of the NFL Draft in 2004, Mularkey's first season as the Bills' head coach. He had at least 740 yards receiving in each of his first five seasons, with 1,292 yards and eight touchdowns in 2006 and 1,017 and three touchdowns in 2008.
Evans caught 377 passes for 5,934 yards and 43 touchdowns in seven seasons with the Bills before being traded to the Baltimore Ravens last season for a fourth-round draft choice. He sustained a foot injury in Week 2, missing nine games and catching four passes for 74 yards.
"He's been productive," Mularkey said. "He has had some things that have slowed him down. He's never satisfied and always wants to prove his worth. It will be challenge for him personally to come back from last season and help this football team."
Evans said while he had free-agency visits set up with other NFL teams, talks with the Jaguars accelerated enough to where he took no other visits.
"Things picked up here and we were able to strike a deal," he said.
Evans said familiarity with Mularkey was incentive to join the Jaguars, as was the opportunity to work with new wide receivers coach Jerry Sullivan, one of the NFL's most-respected receivers coaches.
"I thought it would be a real good spot for me," he said.
The team's receiver corps now includes Evans, Robinson, fourth-year veteran Mike Thomas, fourth-year veteran Brian Robiskie, second-year veteran Cecil Shorts, third-year veteran Taylor Price, second-year veteran Chastin West and fourth-year veteran Jarett Dillard.
"It gives us another veteran in the mix," Jaguars General Manager Gene Smith said of Evans. "It's going to create competition. That usually brings out the best in people."
Said Evans, "Obviously, I'm the oldest receiver there and with that comes some veteran leadership – understanding and teaching younger receivers how to be pros, understanding that it's not just on the field, but off the field as well. I'm eager to get in with the young receivers and really work with them and teach them some things that I've learned."
Evans' injury last season limited him to two starts, the first time in his career he started fewer than 11 games. He never missed an NFL game until an ankle injury kept him out the last three games in 2010.
"I feel good physically," he said. "This off-season has been good, and even finishing up last year I felt good."
Evans throughout his career typically has been one of the NFL's best deep-receiving threats. He has averaged 15.8 yards per reception in his career, and only once has he averaged less than 14 yards a reception. That was in 2009, when he averaged 13.9 yards.
Mularkey said with the Evans signing the Jaguars "have more speed at that position."
"I think physically he's healthier than he was last year," Mularkey said, adding that Evans "still has that vertical-threat speed. You don't have an average like that without making some big plays down the field. I still think he has that."
Evans, asked if he still possessed the deep speed when healthy last season, said, "Absolutely."
"Last year was a tough year for me," he said. "I had never really been injured. I feel good. I'm running good. As we get into this, hopefully, I'll feel the same way. . . .
"It's all about opportunity and I'm excited about this opportunity. I still feel there's a lot of good football left to be played. I want to be a part of it and I want to be a part of it here. I'm ready to take on this opportunity."