Wide receiver Rashod Bateman has been activated from injured reserve to the 53-man roster, so the Ravens’ top draft pick this past spring is in line to make his NFL debut Oct. 16 when the Ravens host the Los Angeles Chargers at M&T Bank Stadium in a matchup of 4-1 teams.
In other roster moves, the Ravens also activated offensive lineman Tyre Phillips from injured reserve and elevated tackle Andre Smith and running back Le’Veon Bell from the practice squad.
The Ravens had open spots on their 53-man roster, so no corresponding roster moves were needed.
Bateman, the No. 27 overall draft pick, missed all three preseason games after suffering a groin injury in practice on Aug. 10 that required surgery. He returned to practice Sept. 29, and offensive coordinator Greg Roman said he expects to ease Bateman into action.
“I don’t think we’re going to throw him into the fire for every play,” Roman said earlier this week. “I think we’re going to build him into the plan on a week-to-week basis. Rashod is going to have a long and fruitful career, and this is just the first step.”
Cornerback Tavon Young called Bateman “explosive off the ball” and a “great route runner. He’s strong. He kind of seems more polished for a young guy. Like when he first came in, he was making plays yearly. So I’m excited to see him make plays.”
Bateman adds another weapon to a Ravens passing attack that is the most prolific in Lamar Jackson’s career as a starter. Jackson is coming off a record-setting performance against the Indianapolis Colts, as he completed 37 of 43 passes for a franchise-record 442 yards and four touchdowns — on the Ravens’ final four possessions — to rally the Ravens to a 31-25 overtime win.
Jackson is the first player in NFL history to complete more than 80 percent of his passes while throwing for more than 400 yards.
The Ravens enter this week’s game ranked No. 1 in total offense with 440.6 yards a game and sixth in passing offense (291.8). Last year, the Ravens ranked 32nd in passing offense, and they haven’t ranked higher than 22nd in passing in Jackson’s three seasons.
Bateman’s debut is timely, as veteran receiver Sammy Watkins will miss his first game as a Raven. Watkins, who has 18 catches for 292 yards, is dealing with a hamstring injury sustained in the win against the Colts. He has been declared out for this week.
Injuries have marred Watkins’ career. His rookie year in 2014 was the only one of his seven NFL seasons in which he played every game. Watkins missed 14 games over the past three years as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs. In the first four games this year, he had played 82 percent of the Ravens’ offensive snaps.
Head coach John Harbaugh described Watkins’ injury as a “couple-week thing. … Could be back next week, could be back the week after, it just depends on how quickly the hamstring heals.”
The Ravens host Cincinnati next week and then have their bye week, so that would give Watkins additional time to heal.
The Ravens also activated Phillips from injured reserve, giving another option to their battered offensive line. Phillips started the season opener at left guard but was carted off the field in that game with a knee injury. Ben Powers took over as the starter in Phillips’ absence and has been splitting time with rookie Ben Cleveland, but Cleveland left the Colts game with a knee injury and has been placed on injured reserve.
The Ravens elevated veteran tackle Andre Smith from the practice squad again, giving them another option should Alejandro Villanueva’s knee injury flare up. Villanueva has missed practice time each of the past two weeks after leaving the Denver game early, and he is listed as questionable for the Chargers game. But Villanueva has not missed a game in his NFL career, with 101 consecutive appearances and 96 straight starts, and he is expected to play.
Bell, meanwhile, will appear in his second game for the Ravens as they continue to search for answers with the running game. Last week, Ravens running backs totaled 24 yards on 11 carries and the Ravens rushed for a total of 86 yards, snapping their streak of consecutive 100-yard rushing games at 43, tied for the longest in NFL history.
Bell’s elevation means one of the other three running backs is likely to be inactive. When Bell was elevated to play at Denver, Ty’Son Williams was the odd man out. Bell had four carries for 11 yards in his Ravens debut at Denver.
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox