After suffering a groin injury in August, Ravens wide receiver and 2021 first-round pick Rashod Bateman is nearing his long-awaited NFL debut. While football fans in Charm City are eager to see Bateman’s impact on an already strong Ravens offense, the rookie will need time to acclimate to a new system in the fast-paced NFL.
Fifteen-year NFL veteran and former Ravens wide receiver Brandon Stokley says Bateman will require an adjustment period in trying to bounce back from his injury and fit into the offense.
“When you haven’t had those reps on the practice field, you can look at the white board all you want and the pictures that they give you, your iPad, and study the plays and what you’re supposed to do,” Stokley said on Glenn Clark Radio Sept. 30. “Until you get out on the football field and actually run those reps, it’s hard to feel comfortable out there.
“Getting out there at practice, when you make those mistakes on the field, that’s when you learn the most from them. … You’ve got to see coverages and see what teams are trying to do [to] you and process all that and know what you have to do. It’s not an easy thing to do.”
After being selected No. 27 overall in the draft, Bateman underwent surgery Aug. 13 during training camp to repair a groin injury. The 6-foot-1, 193-pound wideout more than earned his draft status during his college career at Minnesota, where the three-year starter put up impressive numbers.
He amassed 2,395 total yards from scrimmage from 2018-2020, adding 19 touchdowns and an average of 16.3 yards per reception. Bateman only played five games during the abbreviated 2020 season but recorded stats that were on pace to match his breakout 2019 campaign.
Stokley is optimistic that the youngster will be able to help Baltimore’s potent offense sooner rather than later. He’ll be joining the fourth-best offense in the NFL in terms of yards per game and will add to a passing game that already features wideout Marquise Brown (326 receiving yards, three touchdowns) and Mark Andrews (253 yards).
Defenses focus primarily on stopping the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson-led running game, giving pass-catchers opportunities down the field.
“I will say this. When you have an offense like the Ravens [do], I think it’s easier for a wide receiver like that to transition and play sooner rather than later, especially when he’s been injured,” said Stokley, now a host on 104.3 The Fan in Denver. “Because, what do you see? You see a lot of just man-to-man coverage, eight [defenders] in the box, it’s just kind of like me against this guy.
“There’s really not a whole lot of thinking. And the Ravens, with the play-action game, they can always put him in for some shot plays and do a few different things. I don’t think as a wide receiver playing in that offense is probably as complicated as playing in an offense where you’re throwing the ball a lot more.”
Stokley, who has plenty of experience in both route-running and blocking, says that learning how to block for such a multi-faceted offense will be an adjustment, but Bateman’s ability to participate in all parts of Baltimore’s attack will benefit the team as a whole.
“That’s part of the game, and that’s helping your teammate out, helping your running back, your quarterback out. It’s going to help the passing game out,” Stokley said of blocking. “If you’re a really good running team, you get great, favorable matchups on the outside — a lot of one-on-one matchups. In the NFL, you give us one-on-one matchups, we should be able to win.”
For more from Stokley, listen to the full interview here:
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