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Rashod Bateman Is Ready to Roll for Week 1: 'I Feel Really Good'

WR Rashod Bateman
WR Rashod Bateman

Rashod Bateman was exactly where he wanted to be Wednesday afternoon – on the practice field and nowhere to be found on the injury report.

Just a few days before the Ravens' season opener against the Texans, Bateman is clearly on track to play, taking another step in his recovery from last year's Lisfranc foot surgery.

"I'm excited. I'm in a good place, the team is in a good spot," Bateman said.

"It's been a long time coming. It's been a tough road. But we're back to square one, we're healthy, and I feel really good. My teammates have been up for me, the staff has been up for me. I think I'm in for a good year. We'll see."

Bateman appeared in just six games last season and finished with 15 catches for 285 yards and two touchdowns. As a rookie, Bateman underwent groin surgery during training camp and missed the first five games. He finished with 46 catches for 515 yards and a touchdown, but Beckham could be a major piece in the offense this season as part of a wide receiver group that also includes Odell Beckham Jr., Zay Flowers, and Nelson Agholor.

"We've definitely got a lot of special weapons that we can use this year," Bateman said. "Todd Monken is doing a good job of using us the right way. I think we're all biting our nails to all see what we can do. I think we'll see that Sunday."

Roquan Smith's Plan: 'Be the Best Defense in the League'

Baltimore's defense rose to another level last season after Roquan Smith was acquired in a midseason trade. Now the All-Pro inside linebacker is starting his first full season with the Ravens, and he believes their defense can be second to none.

"We plan to come out and be the best defense in the league," Smith said. "That's going to take week in and week out, not letting complacency slide in. We feel like if we do that, we'll matchup up well against anyone."

Smith will wear the green dot defensive communication helmet this season, a role that was handled by Chuck Clark before he was traded to the Jets. Smith is embracing the challenge and will lean on the experience he gained wearing the green dot helmet with the Chicago Bears.

"The green dot is amazing. I love the responsibility," Smith said. "It's not my first time doing it, so I love just being able to lead the guys, knowing that I'm going to make sure I get the call out on time and get it going throughout the defense. It's a great responsibility to have, and I'm just excited to be leading a great group of guys."

No Snap Count for Odell Beckham Jr.

Beckham will play his first game in more than 18 months on Sunday, but Head Coach John Harbaugh said the star wide receiver won't be on a snap count.

"We haven't had that conversation," Harbaugh said. "It's going to be part and parcel of the gameplan and the personnel groups that go on the field, but he's ready to go." 

Beckham didn't play during the preseason, but he took regular reps during practices and looks more than ready for a full workload. At age 30, Beckham is driven to prove he’s still an elite wide receiver after missing last season recovering from a torn ACL, and he feels healthy enough to do the things he's always done.

"I feel good, it's been a lot of hard work to get to this point," Beckham said. "I know who I am. I'm not giving out any numbers or expectations. I feel good and ready to play football again."

Jadeveon Clowney Plans to Stick With Jersey No. 24

Outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney didn't have many jersey numbers to choose from when he signed with the Ravens on Aug. 18. He chose No. 24, which is unusual for a pass rusher, but he's leaning toward sticking with it.

"Right now, that's what it's looking like," Clowney said. "I'm stuck with it, that's what I've got. Let's rock out."

Clowney is versatile enough to line up as an outside linebacker, or as an inside pass rusher on the defensive line. He's excited to face the Texans, the team he began his career with, but more excited to be joining a defense with an abundance of talent.

"The defensive line – it's probably one of the best groups I've ever been part of," Clowney said. "Consistent. Everybody up front is consistent, making plays, getting into the backfield. Hopefully we're all going to have that year like the Eagles had last year. Everybody had multiple sacks, everybody playing well. That's the goal, and I think we've got a shot at it.

"My goal is 17 games. That's the only goal I need. If I play 17 games, I feel my stats will be wherever they need to be. If I play 17, I'll have a Pro Bowl, All-Pro year. I just need 17 games."

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