There's definitely a quiet confidence about Rashod Bateman. The Ravens' first-round wide receiver has high expectations for himself as a dynamic, playmaking and pro-ready talent coming out of college.
But he isn't entering the NFL worrying about his role or putting pressure on himself to make an instant impact. Just like his game, Bateman is smooth when talking about his expectations.
"My goal is to be the best I can be for this team – whatever that may be," Bateman said. "Whatever Coach [John] Harbaugh needs, whatever this offense needs, I just want to be that weapon and that person for them."
Bateman displayed his talent at rookie minicamp, showing strong hands, good acceleration and smooth routes. Harbaugh said the first impressions were "very positive."
"He's a no-nonsense guy. He has a nice demeanor about him. He's a quick learner," Harbaugh said. "He's everything we thought he would be, in terms of the athleticism and the skillset. … I would say that he is as advertised from a talent standpoint."
After a breakout sophomore year with 1,219 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns, Bateman had a somewhat tough junior season at Minnesota. He contracted COVID-19 over the summer, which dropped his weight 10 pounds and led to extended difficulties considering he has asthma.
He originally opted out of last season, then decided to play and dealt with injuries. Bateman played in five games and made 36 catches for 472 yards and two touchdowns before opting out again with two games remaining.
"It just feels good to be back on the football field 100% healthy," Bateman said. "Due to my last college season, I wasn't 100% healthy. So, just to be back out there having fun, it's a blessing. I'm taking it all in. So, I'm having fun with it – definitely."
Here are the top photographs from this weekend's rookie arrivals, equipment fitting and practices.
Though Bateman does have a lot of refinement to his game already, he was getting constant pointers from new Ravens Wide Receivers Coach Tee Martin and Pass Game Specialist Keith Williams. Baltimore will try to get the rookie up to speed as fast as possible.
"The feels are very different, so I'm just getting adjusted to that – different landmarks and things like that," Bateman said. "So, right now, I'm just learning to pick up the playbook, just learning my adjustments and fine-tuning my details."
The Ravens drafted Bateman to inject another threat into their passing game as a reliable outside target for Lamar Jackson. Baltimore has an explosive speed threat in Marquise "Hollywood" Brown on one side. To balance the offense, they needed another threat to make chain-moving contested catches and pick up yards after the catch.
Now it remains to be seen where and how much Baltimore utilizes Bateman in his rookie season. Baltimore signed veteran Sammy Watkins this offseason and saw positive flashes from Devin Duvernay, particularly as a slot receiver, in his rookie season.
Bateman has the talent to be among Jackson's top targets, but he's not worried about where he'll fit in or whatever pressure outsiders may put on him.
"My job is to go out to perform no matter if I was a first-round [pick], to seventh-round, to wherever," he said. "I have high expectations for myself, so my job is to go out and to perform anyway. I put that standard on myself, so every day I go to work, that's what I look forward to doing. … When I get my opportunity to play and put it on the field, that's what I'll do."