Ravens rookie wide receiver Rashod Bateman is expected to make his NFL debut Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers, coach John Harbaugh said Friday.
Bateman, who underwent groin surgery in training camp, has practiced for the past three weeks as he ramps up to full strength. With wide receiver Sammy Watkins (thigh) ruled out for Sunday’s game, Harbaugh said the first-round pick will “probably” play.
“Our trainers and strength coaches did a nice job on the rehab, and he’s done well,” Harbaugh said. “I think you probably expect him to play in this game, with Sammy being out. We’ll see how he does.”
Harbaugh also said he expects wide receiver Miles Boykin, who made his season debut Monday night against Indianapolis, to see more time on offense. Boykin missed the Ravens’ first four games while recovering from a training camp hamstring injury and was limited to special teams duty against the Colts.
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman said Thursday that Bateman is “looking good” and praised “”his temperament, his attitude and everything.”
“He’s explosive,” cornerback Tavon Young said Friday. “I know he’s explosive off the ball. 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 early. So I’m expecting him to make plays.”
The NFL’s class of first-year receivers has already impressed. Cincinnati Bengals first-round pick Ja’Marr Chase (23 catches for 456 yards), New York Giants first-round pick Kadarius Toney (20 catches for 281 yards) and Arizona Cardinals second-round pick Rondale Moore (21 catches for 270 yards) all rank among Pro Football Focus’ 30 highest-rated wide receivers this season.
Bateman was considered one of the draft’s more polished receivers. According to PFF, the former Minnesota star had a top-10 rate of separation over his final two college seasons and ranked first among Power Five conference receivers in yards per route run (3.74) when lined up on the outside.
When healthy, Bateman could make a dangerous downfield passing game even tougher to stop. On Wednesday, though, quarterback Lamar Jackson was cautious about fueling the hype.
“Things always look good in practice; I’ve got to see it in the game, once we’re actually out there,” he said. “I can’t really tell you off [the] bat right now.”