Regardless of what the Baltimore Ravens have done to address the problem, it’s always felt like star quarterback Lamar Jackson has lacked a reliable and consistent figure at receiver throughout his four NFL seasons.
Rashod Bateman, a first-round pick from the University of Minnesota and a two-time All-Big Ten selection, hopes to provide a resolution to Jackson’s lingering issue.
The Ravens activated rookie receiver Rashod Bateman off injured reserve ahead of Week 4
After a month of waiting, the Ravens may finally get to see what Bateman can bring to the table in an NFL game.
Bateman, who turns 22 on Nov. 29, missed the season’s first three weeks after undergoing groin surgery earlier this summer. The injury-plagued Ravens went 2-1 during that stretch in large part thanks to Jackson’s clutch throws, questionable officiating, and the Detroit Lions’ trademark poor misfortune.
As of publication, the Ravens had not announced if Bateman would play against the Denver Broncos in Week 4. He practiced on Wednesday, Sept. 29, and did not appear on the team’s injury report.
According to ESPN, Jackson shared his excitement for what Bateman, who averaged over 16 yards per catch in college, will bring to the Ravens’ offense.
“[He’s] a great route-runner [with] strong hands and [who has] some sneaky speed,” Jackson said. “I feel he’s going to be hungry and ready when his time comes.”
Jackson needs Bateman to become an invaluable member of the Ravens’ passing game
With respect to the Ravens’ current receiver corps, they’re desperately in need of someone who can emerge as a legitimate No. 1 threat. The best NFL teams all have that quarterback-receiver duo. Kansas City Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes has Tyreek Hill, and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is still slinging touchdowns to Davante Adams.
Tom Brady, of course, has Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, because of course Brady gets to have two All-Pro caliber receivers at his disposal. Oh, and Brady still has Antonio Brown and tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Now, we need to acknowledge that Jackson, the league’s most athletic quarterback, plays far differently than Brady, the last of the traditional pocket passers. But if the 2019 NFL MVP wants to win a Super Bowl as those three other quarterbacks have, he’s going to need a receiver who can stretch the field and consistently secure passes.
Marquise Brown, the 25th overall pick in 2019, has been wildly inconsistent throughout his career. He followed a six-catch, 113-yard game on Sunday Night Football in Week 2 with two crucial drops in a thrilling 19-17 victory over the Lions in Week 3.
The Ravens need Bateman, who hauled in 147 catches for 2,395 yards and 19 touchdowns at Minnesota, to fill that No. 1 receiver role. He’ll bring a 4.43 40-yard dash time and a reputation for excellent hands to a Baltimore offense requiring a spark beyond Jackson’s legs.
The success of other rookie receivers could bode well for Bateman
There is both good news and bad news for Bateman ahead of his NFL debut. If he wants to view things with a half-full glass, several rookie receivers this year, including fifth overall pick and Cincinnati Bengals standout Ja’Marr Chase, have started their careers in excellent fashion.
Unfortunately for Bateman, he’s already three games behind those first-year players and their stellar debuts. Chase’s 220 receiving yards and his four receiving touchdowns lead all rookies. He earned AFC Offensive Rookie of the Month honors for his September efforts.
Miami’s Jaylen Waddle, the sixth overall pick, already has 22 catches to his name. Philadelphia’s DeVonta Smith, who went 10th overall, recorded six receptions, 71 yards, and a touchdown in Week 1. However, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner only managed five catches for 44 yards in the Eagles’ next two games.
Rondale Moore, a second-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals, ended Week 3 with 13 receptions, 183 yards, and a touchdown. Only time will tell if Bateman comes closer to following in Chase’s footsteps, or if he starts his career in the troubled way that New York Giants rookie Kadarius Toney, who only had four catches for 14 yards in his first three games, is trying to change.