The Baltimore Ravens had all of the healthy members from their 2021 rookie class active for their narrow 24-22 road loss to the Cleveland Browns. Despite the defeat, they remain atop the AFC North with an 8-5 record.
Their active list included wide receiver Rashod Bateman, outside linebacker Odafe Oweh, offensive guard Ben Cleveland, defensive back Brandon Stephens, and wide receiver Tylan Wallace.
Here’s a breakdown of how the rookies fared in Week 14.
WR Rashod Bateman
The first-round rookie had the best game of his career to date as he helped the Ravens nearly mount a miraculous comeback. He caught just one pass in the first half but was backup quarterback Tyler Huntley’s big-play target once he entered the game with long gains of 20, 30 and 36 yards.
Bateman finished second to tight end Mark Andrews and set new career highs in targets (8), receptions (7), and receiving yards (103). He nearly scored the first career touchdown on the beautiful 36-yard snag where he was questionably ruled a yard short of the goal line.
RASHOD BATEMAN!— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) December 12, 2021
Tune in on CBS pic.twitter.com/5fzFcb0BMS
After not recording a catch and being targeted just once in last week’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bateman broke out in a big way against the Browns and proved why he needs to be heavily featured in the offense going forward. He made plays down the sideline, over the middle, with defenders in tight coverage, and was able to gain separation at the top of his routes.
.@R_bateman2 pic.twitter.com/gZT3Dyl5Fl— (@SimplyAS10) December 12, 2021
OLB Odafe Oweh
The first-round rookie didn’t have nearly as potent of a game as a pass rusher as he did two weeks ago when these two teams faced off in primetime. However, outside of one instance where he failed to keep contain, Oweh had a very strong day as a run blocker. He consistently set a strong edge to force outside runs back inside which allowed many of his teammates the opportunity rally to make a tackle at or behind the line of scrimmage.
His most memorable play came in the first half when he was able to quickly shed a blocker to limit Browns running back Nick Chubb for a minimal gain of just two yards on a run that looked destined to be a decent sized chunk play. Oweh finished with five total tackles and hustled to make each and every one of them with speed and relentless backside pursuit.
OG Ben Cleveland
The third round rookie served as a backup for a fourth straight week since returning from injured reserve and didn’t see a single snap, not even as an extra blocker in heavy personnel packages despite fullback Patrick Ricard being out. Cleveland played just four snaps on special teams again, blocking for all three field goals and the lone extra-point attempt.
DB Brandon Stephens
The third-round rookie had a sound day of tackling in the open field, making several stops short of the first down including one on the Browns opening drive to force a punt. He had a solid outing in coverage as well, being in the right places and reading plays. Stephens diagnosed a screen on the Browns’ second drive of the game to force Baker Mayfield to throw an incompletion on third down and make them settle for a field goal. He finished as the team’s leading tackler in his seventh career start with eight, including six solos.
His worst play was when he let one of Anthony Averett’s pass deflections hit the turf despite having two opportunities to haul it in. The missed turnover opportunity was especially disappointing considering he is a converted running back and was compounded when the Browns were able to pin the Ravens back deep inside their 10-yard line on the next play. Baltimore’s ensuing drive ended in disaster after Huntley was tripped sacked on its fourth play and the loose ball was returned 15 yards for what ultimately the deciding score.
WR Tylan Wallace
The fourth-round rookie didn’t see the field much in this outside of kick coverage units on special teams before being evaluated for a concussion. While he didn’t take a single snap on offense for the first time since Week 10, he did make a nice solo tackle of Browns’ returner JoJo Natson on the Ravens’ third punt of the game and touched running back Demetric Felton down after a muffed punt for another.