Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh announced today that rookie wide receiver Rashod Bateman will have groin surgery and will be out until September.
Bateman was previously announced to be out for “a number of weeks,” but not months, so Harbaugh’s update is consistent with his original announcement.
ALL the latest Ravens news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Ravens newsletter here!
The first-round wideout went down in practice on Tuesday after a one-on-one drill with cornerback Marcus Peters. The injury brings a sudden halt to a promising preseason for Bateman, who impressed onlookers with his route-running and professional approach.
Timetable for Bateman’s Return
Harbaugh did not offer any specifics on when Bateman would return to the team, only saying he would be back “sometime in September.” That could have him playing as early as the Ravens’ Week 1 game against the Las Vegas Raiders on September 13, or he could come back in Week 3 against the Detroit Lions on September 26.
In between those games is a crucial matchup against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, who star quarterback Lamar Jackson and Ravens have failed to best in each of the last three seasons.
Don’t expect Bateman to recover and immediately grab the WR1 spot, either. Missing the preseason will likely force the rookie to earn his snaps as he gets fully integrated into the offense. Harbaugh noted that the surgery was good news because it would allow Bateman to fully recover from the injury and put it behind him before his first game with the Ravens.
A return against the Lions could be the best case scenario for the former Minnesota Golden Gopher, as Detroit has the third-worst secondary in the league, according to Ben Linsey of Pro Football Focus. Though the Raiders sit just one spot above the Lions, the Ravens will not want to rush Bateman back with a high snap count in the first week of the regular season.
Though Bateman’s fantasy football stock will drop due to his injury, owners should pay careful attention to updates coming out of Baltimore, as the rookie could have a delayed breakout once he’s fully recovered.
Injuries Shake up Wide Receiver Corps
Bateman is the fourth Ravens wideout to get injured this preseason, joining 2020 receiver snap leaders Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin, as well as former sixth-round pick Deon Cain.
With all four likely out on Saturday against the New Orleans Saints, and veteran newcomer Sammy Watkins only playing a few series, the rest of the Ravens’ receivers will have a golden opportunity to step up and make a name for themselves.
Second-year wideout James Proche has turned heads in training camp, showing off his hands with another difficult catch at practice yesterday.
Almost always the first Raven on the practice field, Proche has impressed coaches and observers with his work ethic and focus in the preseason. He’ll look to make plays out of the slot on Saturday against the Saints.
Devin Duvernay has not gotten the same training camp buzz as his fellow 2020 draft pick, but the former third-rounder was on the field for 347 snaps last season, compared to Proche’s 25. The University of Texas product flashed his playmaking ability in his rookie season, but failed to consistently contribute to the passing game. SB Nation’s Spencer Schultz noted that Duvernay is improving his releases when lining up out wide, so if he can translate his speed into a legitimate deep threat, he could be an exciting weapon for quarterback Lamar Jackson this year.
2021 fourth-round pick Tylan Wallace was drafted out of Oklahoma State with a reputation as a catch-point technician, leading the NCAA with 46 contested catches since 2017, per PFF. That statistic captures his strengths and his weaknesses, as his underdeveloped route tree limited his separation, forcing him into tough catches. If he can take instruction from receivers coach Tee Martin and pass game specialist Keith Williams, both new additions to the Ravens’ coaching staff, Wallace could make a significant leap with his opportunities in the preseason.
Behind Proche, Wallace and Duvernay is a collection of young receivers looking to separate themselves from the pack. Deon Cain, Binjimen Victor, Jaylon Moore, Siaosi Mariner, Devin Gray and Michael Dereus are all on the outside looking in for right now, but any could earn a roster spot with a breakout performance in the preseason.
Bateman’s injury is certainly a disappointing blow to a Ravens offense that was hoping to expand their passing game this season, and the Ravens will be looking for another wideout to step up in his absence.