Former Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Nolan believes Baltimore rookie wide receiver Rashod Bateman’s name might “be up on the wall one day” at M&T Bank Stadium — meaning that Nolan believes that Bateman has a chance to be part of the Ravens Ring of Honor one day.
In his short time with Baltimore, Bateman has proven to be a solid option for the Ravens in the passing game, even after missing the entire preseason and the first five games of the regular season due to a groin injury that required surgery. The 6-foot-1, 193-pound wideout has accumulated 241 receiving yards on 18 receptions in just four games.
“This is going way out of the limb, but he’s got a chance to be on the wall one day,” Nolan said on Glenn Clark Radio Nov. 9. “He might be up on that stadium one day because he’s that good.”
Bateman is only getting better as the weeks go by. In his first NFL game against the Los Angeles Chargers Oct. 17, Bateman had four receptions on six targets for 29 yards. He made his first career start against the Minnesota Vikings Nov. 7, catching five passes for 52 yards. In his latest game against the Miami Dolphins Nov. 11, Bateman made a season-high six catches on eight targets for 80 yards.
Nolan has seen Bateman grow as a player and believes he will be great in the future for the Ravens.
“He’s way ahead of his years as far as his experience as a player. He sees things so well and adjusts so well,” Nolan said. “There was a couple replays [against the Vikings] that I watched just in the game where he adjusted his route coming across the field to get open.”
Before being taken in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft by the Ravens, Bateman had a record-breaking career at Minnesota. In his first year as a Golden Gopher (2018), Bateman had 51 receptions for 704 receiving yards, both freshman records at the school. Bateman improved as a sophomore, posting 1,219 receiving yards and 11 receiving touchdowns. Both marks were the most by any sophomore in program history.
During the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season, Bateman appeared in five games and had 36 receptions for 472 yards and two touchdowns. Bateman finished his college career with 147 receptions, 2,395 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns in 31 games.
Nolan says the star rookie probably has not fully recovered from his groin injury yet and that fans have not seen Bateman’s full potential. Nolan says the Ravens have done a good job easing Bateman into the offensive game plan.
“I know firsthand how good Bateman is. I watched him all through college just because I’ve had some familiarity with the program up there in Minnesota,” Nolan said. “I know they’ve got a keeper.”
However, Nolan feels that the Ravens should focus on their running game this year as the way to win. Recently, the Ravens made more moves in the backfield. Le’Veon Bell was released after appearing in five games. Latavius Murray returned to practice Nov. 17 after missing the past three games with an ankle sprain.
The Ravens are tied for first in the league in rushing (154.1 yards per game), but the Ravens are still trying to find a reliable back after season-ending injuries to J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards. Quarterback Lamar Jackson has been the team’s leading rusher through nine games (639 yards on 106 attempts). In fact, Jackson has accumulated more rushing yards than Murray, Devonta Freeman and Ty’Son Williams combined (615).
“This team is a run-first football team and it should stay that if it wants to continue to win games,” Nolan said. “There’ll be games when they’ll have to rely on Bateman, [Marquise] Brown and [Sammy] Watkins and whatever it might be. … But in the meantime, just beat the heck out of people when the game starts.”
The Ravens will take on the Bears in Chicago Nov. 21. The Windy City has not been kind in the past for the Ravens, as they have lost all three games they have played there. The Ravens are 2-4 against the Bears all time. This will be Jackson’s first time playing the Bears.
For more from Nolan, listen to the full interview here:
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