Ravens first-round pick Rashod Bateman is expected to make his NFL debut Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers, Head Coach John Harbaugh said Friday.
Bateman had groin surgery in mid-August, knocking him out for much of training camp and the Ravens' three preseason games. He has been practicing for the past three weeks, getting back into football shape to make his regular-season debut.
"Very pleased. He obviously did a really nice job. Our trainers and strength coaches did a nice job on the rehab. He's done well," Harbaugh said. "I think you probably expect him to play in this game with Sammy [Watkins] being out. We'll see how he does."
Watkins didn't practice all week after tweaking his hamstring in the Ravens' win over the Colts on Monday night and Harbaugh ruled him out for the Chargers game.
Bateman could step into Watkins' role as the primary receiver opposite Marquise "Hollywood" Brown, but Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman said Thursday that he won't "throw him into the fire for every play."
"I think we're going to build him into the plan on a week-to-week basis," Roman said. "Rashod's going to have a long and fruitful career. This is just the first step. We will integrate him into the plan when the time is right."
Bateman looked the part of the Ravens' top pick this summer before his injury. Though he was on and off the field with injuries, whenever he suited up, Bateman made plays.
Jackson didn't want to over-hype the rookie earlier this week, saying "Things always look good in practice; I've got to see it in the game, once we're actually out there."
But cornerback Tavon Young, who lined up across from Bateman on many occasions this summer and the past three weeks in practice, has high expectations.
"He's explosive. I know he's explosive off the ball, great route-runner, he's strong," Young said. "He kind of seems more polished for a young guy. When he first came in, he was making plays early. So I'm expecting him to make plays."