After missing the entire preseason and the first five games of the regular season, Baltimore Ravens’ rookie wide receiver Rashod Bateman made his long-awaited NFL debut on Sunday in the team’s 34-6 domination of the Los Angeles Chargers. He was selected with the first of the team’s two first-round picks in this year’s draft and while it wasn’t quite spectacular, Bateman had a strong first showing.
“He looked pretty good for his first game back – his first NFL game,” quarterback Lamar Jackson said. “He was making tough catches, getting north, getting upfield. He did great.”
While Bateman was on the field early and often, he didn’t record his first career reception until there were less than three-and-a-half minutes left until halftime. When he came down with it, the home crowd cheered like he scored his first career touchdown.
With veteran Sammy Watkins out with a hamstring injury, Bateman stepped up and helped fill the void of the reliable chain mover. The rookie wideout hauled in four of six targets, all of which extended drives with a new set of downs.
“It was an incredible, fun experience,” Bateman said. “The Ravens Flock made the atmosphere special, but I think my teammates made it more special. They’ve always had my back through it all, and because of them, I was comfortable and was able to go out and perform. It was fun.”
The only thing that was more surreal than playing in the game itself was the fact that it was also his first time playing alongside and catching passes from Jackson outside of practice.
“I don’t even know how to put that into words to be honest, because I’ve looked up to him even before I got to college, and while he was in college,” Bateman said. “It was definitely an honor going out there and playing alongside him, and I’m looking forward to it for some time to come.”
Bateman’s impressive debut was nearly flawless until he let a pass from Jackson on a third down in the fourth quarter bounce off his chest. The rookie’s mistake was compounded when the on-target throw was corralled for a diving interception by Chargers’ linebacker Kyzir White. Outside of that play, Head Coach John Harbaugh liked what he saw from him overall and knows he’ll learn from it.
“Really good, except for the last one,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “That’s the one he’ll probably learn the most from, but he was good. He made some key first-down catches. I liked that he caught it, put it away, and got straight upfield. It’s a simple thing, but in the NFL, it’s not an easy thing to learn, and he did a great job of that.”
Overall, it was great to see the No. 27 overall pick not only see the field for the first time but have an impact and give a glimpse of what it is to come as he gets more acclimated.