Ravens Rule Out Key Playmaker Ahead of Bengals Showdown

Ravens John Harbaugh

Getty Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh reacts during a December 26 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Baltimore Ravens will be without one of quarterback Lamar Jackson’s top targets in the passing game when they host their AFC North division rival Cinncinatti Bengals in Week 5. After missing the entire week of practice with a foot injury, top wide receiver Rashod Bateman was ruled out for the primetime matchup on the final injury report.

The 2021 first-rounder suffered what head coach John Harbaugh described as a mid-foot injury in the second half of the team’s Week 4 loss to the Buffalo Bills. He is considered “day-to-day” as his injury isn’t severe in nature.

Bateman ranks second on the team in receiving yards with 243 through four games, third in receptions with 11, and ranks second in the entire league in yards per catch with an average of 22.1 per reception. He has been one of the brightest spots and biggest performers on the offensive side of the ball for the Ravens to start the year both as their primary deep threat. The rising star is capable of making multiple defenders miss in open space as well as running by and away from them with underrated speed and acceleration.

Ravens Confident in Other Pass Cathers Stepping Up

While not having Bateman for the first time this season is a tough blow because he is a dangerous weapon with the ball in his hands, he is not the only pass catcher that fits that description on the team. The Ravens still have All-Pro tight end Mark Andrews who leads the team in receiving yards and receptions with 260 yards on 24 catches and is tied for the team lead in receiving touchdowns with three.

The offensive skill position player that is tied with Andrews for the team lead in touchdowns is third-year wide receiver, Devin Duvernay, who has established himself as one of the best all-purpose players in the league with his scoring prowess on both offense and special teams. Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman is confident in the ability of the 2021 All-Pro returner and 2022 budding star as well as some of the team’s other pass catchers to step up in Bateman’s absence.

“Bate is really valuable to us,” Roman said in a press conference on October 6, 2022. “He’s really coming along as a receiver, so if he’s not out there, he’s definitely going to be missed, but the flip side of that is we have some other guys who can step in there and make plays for us as well.

“I like what I’m seeing out at practice this week, so we just have to keep working through it. We have a multitude of tight ends, our receivers are doing a great job, when you look at their production based on what we’re asking of them, they’re extremely productive. I feel really good about it. Some other guys will step up.”

Duvernay is poised to be one of Jackson’s top targets on Sunday Night Football and is ready to seize the opportunity to shine in an expanded role on a national stage when the ball comes his way.

“I’m prepared; I’ve been waiting for it,” he said in an appearance on ‘The Lounge’ podcast on October 7, 2022. “I prepare like it, and I’m always ready for my number to be called and for my opportunity.”

J.K. Dobbins Is Ready for Heavy Workload

Bateman isn’t the only key player on offense that was ruled out for this huge matchup with massive playoff implications. Fourth-year running back Justice Hill missed the entire week of practice as well with a hamstring injury he also suffered late in the Bills’ game. Hill has been the Ravens’ most impressive and electric runner after Jackson to start the season and ranks second on the team in rushing yards with 125 yards per carry with 6.6.

Coming off a game in which he finished as the team’s highest-graded player according to Pro Football Focus with an overall grade of 72.8 and scored a pair of first-half touchdowns, third-year running back J.K. Dobbins is ready for an increased workload.

“Justice was playing well. He’s going to be back and he’s going to be doing well again,” Dobbins said in a press conference on October 7, 2022. “If the team needs me to be that workhorse, then I’m there. I’m ready to do it.”

He is heading into just his third game back from a torn ACL he suffered last year that cost him all of what was projected to be his breakout campaign in 2021. His total number and percentage of offensive snaps have increased the past two weeks and will likely do so again against the Bengals although the team still has veterans Mike Davis and Kenyan Drake who will both likely be active with Hill out.

“Each week is getting better and better,” Dobbins said. “That’s what I strive to do, get better each week. That’s happening. Maybe this week I’ll reach the goal of getting past that 100-yard mark in a game. I know one thing. I’m going to run the ball hard. I know my lineman are going to block hard.”

While he is only averaging 3.2 yards per attempt thus far this year and 64 total yards on the ground, Dobbins has run hard, picked up key first downs, and showed some elusiveness and great contact balance. He has been especially impressive as a pass catcher out of the backfield as well by hauling in all six of his targets for 39 yards with a long of 20.

“If there’s a hole and I watch our back run through it, sometimes I’ll sit up there in the staff room and say, ‘Well, I could have run through that hole,’ Roman said. “It’s what do they do when they’re confronted with a defender – can they make a guy miss, can they run them over, can they juke them, hit and spin? Whatever that is, their mechanism to gain extra yards, that’s what we’re looking for. I think he’s really coming along day by day in that regard, and he’ll just get stronger as the year goes on.”

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