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Ravens Week 18 Rookie Report: Cleveland and Stephens impress, Bateman underutilized again

The two third-rounders made their presence felt the most.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens had nearly all of the healthy members from their 2021 rookie class active for their disappointing loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in their regular season finale. They weren’t able to stop their five-game skid and finish the season last in the division with a 8-9 record.

Their active list included wide receiver Rashod Bateman, offensive guard Ben Cleveland, defensive back Brandon Stephens, and wide receiver Tylan Wallace. First-round rookie outside linebacker Odafe Oweh was the only rookie on the active roster that did not suit up for the game and missed his second straight due to a foot injury.

Here’s a breakdown of how the rookies fared in Week 18:

WR Rashod Bateman

Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The first-round rookie continued to show off his crisp route running ability but was still inconsistently targeted and not often enough, despite regularly getting open. He caught two of the three passes that came his way for just 22 yards in his fifth career start. Both of Bateman’s catches came on the Ravens’ first drive of the game on back-to-back plays with the second going for 18 yards.

He was wide open for what could’ve been his second career touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter. However, quarterback Tyler Huntley decided to target tight end Mark Andrews instead, who was well-covered in the back of the end zone and the pass was intercepted.

In his postgame presser, Huntley said he didn’t throw it to Bateman because of the defender in underneath coverage. Had he just lofted a pass well over the linebackers, though, the rookie wideout had more than enough room to scamper in for a walk-in score.

OG Ben Cleveland

Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The third-round rookie played 100 percent of the snaps in his fourth straight start. He bounced back from a rough all-around game against Aaron Donald and Co. in Week 17 with a very strong one against Cam Heyward and the Steelers’ defensive front. He was solid in pass protection and tremendous in a rushing attack that racked up their second-highest total of the season. Cleveland helped pave the way for veteran running back Latavius Murray on several of his chunk runs, including a key pull block on the 46-yard touchdown.

DB Brandon Stephens

Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The third-round rookie started his 11 career game at free safety but was lining up at cornerback by the end of the game due to injuries that occurred in the second half. He finished with six total tackles and a pass deflection that he broke on beautifully, which should’ve been an interception but he let it bounce off his hands.

Stephens’ best play came on a tackle he made late in the fourth quarter. He limited Steelers’ tight end Pat Freiermuth to a gain of three yards on a 3rd-&-4 from the Pittsburgh 41 yard line. Not only did he come flying in to make the clutch stop short of the line to gain, but he also pushed him out of bounds to stop the clock. This forced the Steelers to punt and gave the Ravens’ offense the ball back with a chance to win the game in regulation.

WR Tylan Wallace

Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The fourth-round rookie only played five snaps on offense but that was because he exited the game following the Ravens' third possession of the game. Wallace suffered an injury attempting to make a catch on a fake punt pass play that happened to be his only target of the day.