PHOENIX — Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday that top wide receiver Rashod Bateman is in a “great place with everything” as he recovers from a season-ending Lisfranc (foot) injury and moves past an offseason outburst at Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta.
At the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix, Harbaugh said Bateman is healthy and expects to start running in three weeks. The 2021 first-round pick missed five games as a rookie with a groin injury and 11 games last season with his foot injury, which required surgery.
“He’s going to be ready to roll, stronger than ever, healthier than ever,” Harbaugh said. “Rashod’s going to have a great season. I’m a big believer in Rashod Bateman. He’s going to come back ready to roll.”
Harbaugh declined to comment on the specifics of a recent conversation with Bateman, who called out DeCosta in a since-deleted tweet for remarks he made at the NFL scouting combine earlier this month. In response to a question about the challenges of evaluating wide receivers, DeCosta said: “If I had an answer, that means I would probably have some better receivers.”
Bateman tweeted: “How bout you play to your player’s strength and & stop pointing the finger at us and #8 [quarterback Lamar Jackson] ...blame the one you let do this.... we take heat 24/7.” Bateman later deleted his tweet and apologized. He’s also since spoken with DeCosta, according to Harbaugh, who said of their relationship: “It’s all good.”
Bateman has a new teammate at the position. Nelson Agholor on Friday agreed to a one-year deal with the Ravens and is “going to be great for a young receiver room,” Harbaugh said. He described Agholor, who had 31 catches for 362 yards and two touchdowns last season with the New England Patriots, as “a big, rangy receiver. Tough player. Pro.”
The Ravens’ wider receiver room will also include Devin Duvernay, Harbaugh said. The fourth-year receiver and All-Pro returner was once considered a potential salary cap casualty.
“And we’re not done yet,” Harbaugh said. “We’re not done at all.”
Harbaugh said the Ravens intend to take a receiver in next month’s draft. Harbaugh called it a deep class of wideouts and estimated that he’s reviewed the tape of almost 40 prospects at the position.
“There’s a lot of guys that fit the way we want to play,” he said. Harbaugh said he plans to meet with the Ravens’ offensive staff and ask them about potential fits. “With what we’re trying to build offensively, which of these guys do you like the best in terms of targets you want to go after?”
New names at LG
Left guard Ben Powers’ departure in free agency was not a surprise in Baltimore. But two players who could replace him next season might be.
The leading contenders are Patrick Mekari, who’s played exclusively as a swing tackle the past two seasons but has experience at all three interior spots, and Ben Cleveland, the 2021 third-round pick who played just 92 offensive snaps last year.
Also in the mix is John Simpson, a former fourth-round pick of the Las Vegas Raiders. Harbaugh said he thinks Simpson, who joined the Ravens’ practice squad in December, “is going to surprise some people. He’s had a nice offseason so far.”
Daniel Faalele, the Ravens’ mammoth tackle and 2021 fourth-round pick, could also move inside, Harbaugh said. Former longtime Oakland Raiders offensive lineman Robert Gallery, at 6 feet 7, is considered the tallest guard in NFL history. Faalele is an inch taller.
Powers was the Ravens’ only player to participate in every offensive play last season. He signed a four-year, $52 million contract with the Denver Broncos after four years in Baltimore.
Harbaugh said the Ravens’ plan for their next in-line tight end is still “to be determined.” Josh Oliver, who signed a three-year, $21 million deal with the Minnesota Vikings this offseason, played the majority of his snaps along the line of scrimmage, with his solid run blocking freeing up Mark Andrews, Isaiah Likely and, later, Charlie Kolar to move around the field.
“Those guys are all good in-line blockers, but that’s not their bread and butter,” Harbaugh said. “I think [fullback] Pat [Ricard] obviously is a great blocker, can move and do some things. That will be the task of Todd [Monken] and the offensive coaches — the best way to utilize these guys we have, to develop those guys as in-line blockers as well, moving parts and moving guys around and playing to their strengths.”
Before Oliver emerged as the team’s top in-line option, the Ravens relied heavily on Nick Boyle, whose role shrank after a 2020 knee injury.
- Harbaugh said running back Gus Edwards had clean-up surgery after the season on his surgically repaired knee. J.K. Dobbins, who also missed all of 2021 with a knee injury, underwent a similar procedure during the 2022 season. “They both told me what a difference that made,” Harbaugh said. “I think those guys are going to be ready to shock the world. I think they’re going to come back and play great football.”
- Harbaugh said it’s “critically important” that outside linebacker Odafe Oweh and David Ojabo step up this season. He said he had dinner with both recently and that both were “ready to roll.” Tyus Bowser will lead the group in 2023, and Harbaugh wouldn’t rule out adding another veteran. “Between those guys right there, that’s a good group of young players we can build around.”