OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said wide receiver Rashod Bateman will be sidelined “a number of weeks” after sustaining a soft tissue injury in his leg, but Harbaugh would not say whether he expected the team’s first-round draft pick to be ready for the regular-season opener on Sept. 13 at Las Vegas.
Bateman, who had been sidelined a couple of days earlier in camp, limped off the practice field on Aug. 10 and did not practice the next day.
Asked after practice on Aug. 11 about Bateman, Harbaugh said, “He’s dealing with a soft-tissue leg issue that’s going to be weeks, a number of weeks. So, I don’t know how many. … It’s not going to be months, but it will be weeks.”
Bateman’s injury is the latest setback for an offense that has struggled to build any rhythm or cohesion yet this summer, with major absences at every position group.
Quarterback Lamar Jackson and running back Gus Edwards both missed the first 10 days of training camp after testing positive for COVID-19, and the offensive line has been without several projected starters most days.
At wide receiver, Marquise Brown (hamstring) has been sidelined since the second day of training camp, and Miles Boykin (hamstring) has been out almost as long.
The Ravens were missing five receivers at practice Aug. 11, with Brown, Bateman and Boykin joined on the sideline by Deon Cain, who has missed three practices in a row after a strong start to camp, and veteran Sammy Watkins, who was likely getting a veteran day off.
Harbaugh would not speculate on whether Bateman would be available for the Week 1 game at Las Vegas in roughly four weeks, but the Ravens star-crossed history at the position is well documented. Of the 30-plus receivers drafted by the Ravens, Torrey Smith remains the only one to record a 1,000-yard season with the team.
Breshad Perriman missed his entire rookie season after the Ravens drafted him in the first round in 2015, and Brown, taken in the first round of the 2019 draft, missed most of his rookie training camp while recovering from a foot injury, though he burst onto the scene with four catches for 147 yards and two touchdowns in Week 1 of his rookie year.
The addition of Bateman, Watkins and fourth-round rookie Tylan Wallace are expected to jump-start a passing game that ranked 32nd in the league last year, but Bateman likely being sidelined for the rest of training camp means that he and Jackson will enter the regular season having had one camp practice together.
Jackson returned from the reserve/COVID-19 list Aug. 7, but Bateman missed that workout. Players were off Aug. 8, then they both practiced Aug. 9, but Bateman was injured the next day.
The Ravens have resorted to a couple of off-the-street signings already just to have enough players to practice, adding former Georgetown receiver Michael Dereus and former Utah State receiver Siaosi Mariner, both of whom had previous brief off-season stints with the team.
Among the short-handed group, second-year receiver James Proche continues to be one of the camp standouts, and given the crowd in the training room, Proche’s availability wasn’t lost on Harbaugh.
“Those guys that are out there every day, and prove that they’re durable … that counts for a lot,” Harabugh said. “And then he’s out here making plays every day. He’s got plenty of things to work on … but we’re nothing but pleased with James Proche.”
In the Aug. 11 practice, Proche won a couple of battles in a 1-on-1 red-zone drill, first beating Marlon Humphrey and then catching a pass underneath against DeShon Elliott. Proche later made a one-handed grab in the back of the end zone but was ruled out of bounds. Proche later elevated to make two grabs in 7-on-7 drills. One of Jackson’s few deep passes during practice targeted Proche, but it was overthrown with Tavon Young in coverage.
TRAINING CAMP NOTEBOOK
ROOKIES BEN CLEVELAND, DAELIN HAYES LEAVE EARLY: On one of the hotter days of training camp, rookie guard Ben Cleveland and rookie outside linebacker Daelin Hayes left practice early, adding to a lengthy list of absences. More than 20 players sat out the Aug. 11 workout, though several of them, including wide receiver Sammy Watkins, offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva, defensive linemen Derek Wolfe and Brandon Williams, and defensive backs Anthony Levine and Marcus Peters, could have been given a vet day off.
Other than those players, and the other receivers, absences included fullback Patrick Ricard, guard Kevin Zeitler (foot), offensive lineman Patrick Mekari, inside linebacker Otaro Alaka, outside linebacker Odafe Oweh and defensive backs Jimmy Smith (ankle), Khalik Dorsey (knee), Iman Marshall (knee) and Nigel Warrior (knee). Offensive lineman JaWuan James (Achilles) and tight end Nick Boyle (knee) remain on the PUP list.
C BRADLEY BOZEMAN RETURNS: Center Bradley Bozeman returned to the lineup after missing one practice with an unspecified injury. He had left practice early Aug. 9. All-Pro tackle Ronnie Stanley was also back on the field for individual work for the second time in three days as he continues to rehab from the ankle injury that sidelined him Nov. 1 last year.
The Ravens have yet to have what they expect to be their No. 1 offensive line on the field together and won’t until at least Stanley and Zeitler return from injury. Head coach John Harbaugh said the group has been able to meet and conduct walkthroughs together.
“You just do what you do,” Harbaugh said. “It’s training camp, and you don’t always have all your guys out there.”
WESTRY CONTINUES MAKING HIS CASE: Cornerback Chris Westry, who entered camp on the roster bubble, has been one of the top defensive backs over the past week. With several defensive backs sidelined by injury, Westry’s chances for the 53-man roster appear to be getting better by the day.
During a 1-on-1 red-zone drill during the Aug. 11 workout, Westry did a nice job to deny Jaylon Moore in the back of the end zone and also broke up a pass intended for Michael Dereus. Westry and head coach John Harbaugh had a long chat during that 1-on-1 session. Later in practice, Westry broke up a deep pass from Tyler Huntley that was intended for Devin Duvernay but slightly underthrown.
The 6-foot-4 Westry played two games with the Dallas Cowboys last year before ending the season on injured reserve. He was signed by the Ravens to a reserve/future contract in January.
“As he pays more and more attention to the detail of his technique, and he repeats good technique rep after rep, he starts making plays,” Harbaugh said, “and it’s definitely showing up in camp.”
MASKS REQUIRED AT M&T BANK STADIUM: Citing revised COVID-19 guidelines in Baltimore City, the Ravens announced that masks will be required at all indoor areas of M&T Bank Stadium, regardless of vaccination status, for those over the age of 2. The Ravens host the New Orleans Saints on Saturday, Aug. 14, in the only home game of the preseason. The first home game of the regular season is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 19, against Kansas City.
“The health and safety of our fans will remain our organization’s top priority,” the team said in a statement. “To maintain a safe gameday experience, our close collaboration with health experts and state and local government officials will continue.”
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