Most of the hype surrounding the Baltimore Ravens’ revamped wide receiver group for the past several months has been centered around a pair of high-profile newcomers.
Three-time Pro Bowler and global superstar Odell Beckham Jr. and first-round rookie Zay Flowers have generated a lot of buzz and attention since joining the team. However, a player at the position that has gone largely overlooked is Rashod Bateman.
The former 2021 first-round pick out of Minnesota spent most of the offseason and training camp working his way back from Lisfranc foot surgery, which prematurely ended his sophomore season. While out of sight often means out of mind for fans, especially when the team added some tantalizing new pieces to the unit, there are still high hopes and expectations for the third-year pro.
Bateman will be taking the field for the first time in a regular season game since late October 2022 this Sunday. The Ravens host the Houston Texans at M&T Bank Stadium for a Week 1 AFC showdown. After being cautiously brought along since having a screw removed from his foot and receiving a cortisone shot in July, Bateman is poised to make his return with no restrictions.
"Rashod looks full speed ready to go."— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) September 8, 2023
Bonus points for the pun Coach pic.twitter.com/mb4sSheZKy
“He looks full speed ready to go,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said Friday. “It means so much to him. He was very frustrated with the fact that thing kind of just kept lingering and lingering and he was not able to kind of put it behind him.”
He went on to make light of the situation with a clever pun, saying Bateman “put his foot down” and proceeded to “make the determination that he was going to beat it.”
“He did a great job,” Harbaugh said. “I’m kinda proud of him and I’m excited about him too. I want to see how he does.”
While Harbaugh admitted that not everybody is going “bat 1.000” in the first week of the regular season, he still believes that it will be “interesting and fun to watch” nevertheless.
Bateman’s 2022 season got off to a sensational start a year ago. He posted eight catches on 16 targets for 226 receiving yards and a pair of long touchdowns through the first three games. Then, he suffered his initial injury in Week 4 against the Buffalo Bills. His 28.25 yards per reception was the best mark in the league during that time, as he appeared on his way to a breakout season.
HOLY BATMAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) September 18, 2022
Tune in on CBS!! pic.twitter.com/iGgfmfFu7w
The Ravens have added more weapons at his position and mouths to feed with Beckham Jr., Flowers, and veteran Nelson Agholor. However, there is still a high likelihood that Bateman could realize his potential and establish himself as the team’s No. 1 receiver.
The key, as it has been during his first two injury-marred seasons in the league, will be his durability. As long as he stays healthy and available, Bateman’s ability will be put on display to shine.