First impressions are important, and Rashod Bateman made a strong one at rookie minicamp.
The site of Bateman running precise routes, making smooth cuts and catching everything thrown his way was exactly what the coaching staff wanted to see. The Ravens' first-round draft pick is viewed as a wide receiver with the potential to add electricity to the offense as a rookie.
Everything Head Coach John Harbaugh saw this weekend aligns with that perception.
"Impressions are very positive," Harbaugh said during his Saturday press conference. "He's a no-nonsense guy, has a nice demeanor about him. He's a quick learner. He's everything we thought he would be in terms of athleticism, the skillset. That's usually the case, but not always the case. What you see is not always what you get. You don't know until you get them out there, in really the first rookie minicamp. And I would say that he is as advertised from a talent standpoint."
During route-running drills conducted by Wide Receivers Coach Tee Martin and Pass Game Specialist Keith Williams, Bateman showed no hesitation and seemed completely comfortable with his new surroundings. Bateman has already agreed to contract terms, checking off another important box early so he can strictly focus on football. In the coming weeks, Bateman is looking forward to speaking with Lamar Jackson as they begin their relationship as playmakers in Baltimore's offense.
"Me and Lamar have not connected yet," Bateman said. "I'm pretty sure he's busy and I'm busy with minicamp. Lamar's Lamar. I grew up watching him. I've watched him from afar, watched him do what he do. It's a blessing to be his teammate. I'm just excited to get to work with him."
John Harbaugh Agrees That Ravens' 2021 Schedule Is 'Quirky'
It's rare for an NFL team to play four consecutive home games. It's rare to play just one divisional opponent in the first 11 weeks of the season.
But that's how the Ravens' 2021 schedule shakes out. Harbaugh is beginning his 14 season in Baltimore, and in his first comments since the schedule was released earlier this week, he noted that this year's ledger is among the strangest.
"I tried not to think about it after looking at it," Harbaugh said. "It might give me a headache trying to figure it all out. Quirky, to say the least. It's probably our turn to get the crazy one and we did. All those home games in a row is different. All those road games is a row is different. We just have to take it as we get there."
Among the bigger oddities is the Ravens playing the Cleveland Browns in Week 12 and Week 14. The Browns have a bye in between those two games, so they will play the Ravens twice in a row. Meanwhile, Baltimore has a physical contest in Pittsburgh sandwiched in-between.
From Week 5 through Week 9, the Ravens have a four-game homestand against Indianapolis, the Los Angeles Chargers, Cincinnati and Minnesota, wrapped around a bye in Week 8. After traveling to play the Denver Broncos on Oct. 3, the Ravens won't have another road game until Nov. 11 at Miami.
The flip side is that starting Week 11, the Ravens play four out of their five games on the road. Once he saw so many home games early, Harbaugh knew the Ravens would have a challenging finish to the season.
"You know you've got to pay a price for that," Harbaugh said. "Pay me now or pay me later. I think it's just a strange different kind of deal. It's the first time I've seen that. Maybe it's happened before, I don't know. That really caught my attention right away."
Injury Updates on Jacob Breeland and Ben Mason
Neither tight end Jake Breeland nor fifth-round tight end/fullback Ben Mason were at Saturday's practice. Harbaugh said Breeland is still recovering from a knee surgery that sidelined the undrafted rookie from Oregon for all last year.
"Jake's not back yet from a knee," Harbaugh said. "I spoke with him, he's here in the building. I couldn't give you a timeframe on it. I kind of think he'll be here for training camp. The next time we get together I can answer that one for you. But he's not ready to practice yet, hasn't been cleared."
Mason had a painful episode with his feet following Friday's practice.
"Ben had some trouble with his feet yesterday, just a bad shoe situation," Harbaugh said. "Really had some legitimate problems in terms of tearing the skin off his feet. It will grow back quickly I'm sure and he'll be okay. He goes hard. He worked so hard yesterday he tore the skin off the bottom of his feet."