“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another,” has become one of the most used clichés in sports at every level. Nevertheless, it still rings true and is applicable to arguably the premiere head-to-head battles that will take place in the Baltimore Ravens 2022 training camp.
With Marquise “Hollywood” Brown out of town, 2021 first-round pick Rashod Bateman has assumed the mantle of the offense’s No. 1 wide receiver and is expected to take a massive leap in his second season. Ravens veteran All-Pro cornerback Marlon Humphrey knows what he is capable of and is looking forward to competing against him day in and day out to make sure he reaches and realizes his tremendous potential.
“I’m really excited to get some good battles in with Bateman,” Humphrey said. “I know what he can do on the field, I know he hasn’t shown it yet, but anyone around here in the building has seen what he can do.”
Bateman appeared in 12 games as a rookie in 2021, made four starts, and finished with 46 receptions on 68 targets for 515 receiving yards and one touchdown. He consistently flashed his playmaking potential and is poised to break out in his second season,
The two-time Pro Bowler believes that despite his relative inexperience, Bateman will be up to and fully embrace the task and emerge as not only a prolific pass catcher, but as a leader of an unheralded group of wideouts that have been questioned and doubted all offseason.
“I want our secondary to be the best secondary,” Humphrey said. “The only way that you get that is if you have really good guys to cover in practice, so I think we have the ability to really sharpen each other.”
He is excited to go up against and push all of the Ravens wide receivers including Devin Duvernay, James Proche, and Tylan Wallace but “especially the ones with Bateman.”
The second-year pro welcomes the challenge that comes with consistently lining up and competing against one of the best defensive backs in the league because both he and the team will reap the rewards.
“I love it,” Bateman said. “He’s a phenomenal player. He definitely makes our team better. He’s an incredible leader. So, I definitely look forward to going against him throughout training camp.”
The two had quite a few nice battles in last year’s training camp before Bateman suffered a groin injury that required him to undergo surgery and miss the first five weeks of the season. One of the best plays of his short-lived 2021 camp came against Humphrey in a one-on-one vertical route down the left side in an open stadium practice.
Rashod Bateman beating Marlon Humphrey pic.twitter.com/J8Y0GQOpTH— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) July 31, 2021
Bateman is already proficient at beating press coverage off the line of scrimmage as well as sinking his hip and making clean breaks at the top of his route stems. However, Humphrey can help him become even better at playing and winning against physical cornerbacks.
He can return the favor by helping his veteran teammate improve his game when it comes to consistently guarding smooth route runners with plenty of quick twitch muscle fibers to quickly get open on out or in breaking routes than even the best corners are susceptible to at times. Humphrey suffered his season-ending torn pectoral in that exact scenario last year against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 13 on a play that wound up being the game-winning score.
DIONTAE JOHNSON FOR THE LEAD!— The Game Day NFL (@TheGameDayNFL) December 6, 2021
Can Lamar and the Ravens come back to win? pic.twitter.com/Werf79xzdX
Both players will be integral to the Ravens’ success in 2022 as the top players at their respective positions on the team and in Humphrey’s case, the league. Bateman has the potential to establish himself as one of the best ascending pass catchers in the league and consistently sparing with an elite corner in practice will only better prepare him for the stars and stalwarts that he’ll face in the regular and—hopefully—post season.