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Late for Work: Rashod Bateman Talks Connection With Lamar Jackson, Proving Himself, and More

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Rashod Bateman runs a route against the Houston Texans during an NFL football AFC divisional playoff game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Houston Texans, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024, in Baltimore. The Ravens won 34-10.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Rashod Bateman runs a route against the Houston Texans during an NFL football AFC divisional playoff game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Houston Texans, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024, in Baltimore. The Ravens won 34-10.

Rashod Bateman Talks Connection With Lamar Jackson, Proving Himself, and More

Fresh off signing a contract extension that will keep him with the Ravens through 2026, wide receiver Rashod Bateman appeared on “Glenn Clark Radio” to discuss a variety of topics.

Here are some highlights:

Thoughts on his contract extension: "It feels good. Definitely didn't see it coming, but it definitely means a lot. … Just knowing that they want me here and having them in my corner, having the team trust me, having some type of security. It's kinda like a fresh start for me. I'm definitely excited, looking forward to it. I've got a lot to prove."

What he has to prove: "I want to prove to myself that I can actually be a star. Be someone the team can depend on, reliable. I've been that, but my career took some hits, some ups and downs, but I'm in a good spot right now. I feel good, I'm healthy, excited, all my chips in the basket. So it should be a good year."

On his injury history and critics: "I don't blame anybody for feeling how they feel. … I was a first-round draft pick and there's expectations. … Those are the cards I got dealt and it's tough. I've never been through it before, but it definitely made me stronger, made me appreciate the game more than I did before. … I feel like everybody knows what I can do, so I just have to go out and do it now."

His connection with Lamar Jackson: "Lamar trusts me. I've trained with Lamar, I've worked out with Lamar. But last year, we did not have that connection. And that's due to me, my injury, I wasn't able to train with him in the offseason. I missed all of training camp. For a quarterback, it's tough. It's a feeling thing —you gotta feel your receivers."

Pundit Says Ravens' Belief in Odafe Oweh Is Well-Founded

While outside linebacker Odafe Oweh has yet to have a major breakout season during his three years with the Ravens, The Baltimore Banner's Jonas Shaffer noted that Oweh's improvement as a pass rusher "has been swift and steady," which is why the team picking up the 2021 first-round pick's fifth-year option was a good move.

"According to Pro Football Focus, his pass rush win rate on 'true pass sets' — a sample that excludes plays with play-action passes, screens, short drop-backs, a time to throw of less than two seconds or fewer than four pass rushers — has jumped 12 percentage points since his rookie year," Shaffer wrote. "According to the NFL's Next Gen Stats, his quarterback pressure rate rebounded from a dip in 2022 to a career high last season. Oweh ranked near the top of the league in both metrics in 2023."

Shaffer said Oweh now needs to turn more pressure into sacks. Oweh has 13 career sacks in 45 games, but Shaffer said the 25-year-old has the tools to greatly improve on those numbers.

"The next step in Oweh's evolution is broadening his pass rush arsenal while refining it," Shaffer wrote. "He is not a one-pitch player. Far from it. He got to sacks with a mix of moves last season, including two-hand swipes, spins and rips. Oweh's pass rush plan could be predictable at times last season, however, and it seemed to ignore the best possible cocktails available on his menu.

"He showed his length and power when setting the edge, grading out well on PFF as a run defender. He showed his speed in the open field and as a pass rusher, especially on effort plays. Rarely, though, did Oweh blend all of his most intimidating traits. He said before last season that he was still 'learning who I am as a rusher,' and he called himself a 'power-explosive edge rusher.' But that speed-to-power potential — long-arm moves and bull rushes where Oweh would walk the opposing tackle back into the quarterback's lap — appeared only in flashes."

Shaffer said another year or two of growth under Outside Linebackers Coach Chuck Smith will benefit Oweh, who has always had star potential.

"The Ravens know it, too," Shaffer wrote. "A $13.3 million salary might seem like a big risk now. Before long, it could be a small price to pay for a game-changing piece."

Two Ravens Matchups Ranked Among Top 5 Games of 2024

NFL.coms Kevin Patra revealed his picks for the top 10 games of the 2024 season, and the Ravens were involved in two of the top five.

Patra put the battle of archrivals between the Ravens and Steelers at No. 1, even ahead of the Chiefs-49ers Super Bowl rematch.

"Provided he's the starter for Pittsburgh at the time, Russell Wilson's return to Denver will get plenty of press, but as far as pure watchability, his introduction to this AFC North rivalry in the first of the Steelers' and Ravens' annual showdowns offers a much higher rate of return," Patra wrote. "Both clubs have gone through a bit of a metamorphosis after flaming out last season. The new quarterback duo in Pittsburgh — Wilson and Justin Fields — is clearly the top storyline. Whoever winds up as the QB1 gives the Steelers more upside than they had last season. Pittsburgh added beef on the offensive line in the draft after getting pushed around the past few years.

"With King Henry pounding the rock for Baltimore alongside Lamar Jackson, we could get an old-school Ravens-Steelers matchup with much more physicality than we've seen lately. Given that their division plays teams from the NFC East this season, both these squads will have plenty of prime affairs against the likes of the Cowboys and Eagles. But for me, nothing gets the juices flowing like a hard-hitting Steelers-Ravens slobber knocker."

The matchup pitting John Harbaugh's Ravens against Jim Harbaugh's Chargers and a slew of former Ravens in Los Angeles was No. 5.

"Jim Harbaugh's return to the NFL provides a brotherly matchup between the Chargers and Ravens," Patra wrote. "John Harbaugh brings Lamar Jackson, Derrick Henry and a re-imagined defense across the continent to face off against Justin Herbert and a reworked Chargers receiver corps.

"Jim is 0-2 in his NFL career versus his older brother, including in Super Bowl XLVII, when John's Ravens defeated Jim's 49ers. Not only will Jim be attempting to avenge those losses, but he'll be doing so with several of John's former assistants and players, including Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman and DC Jesse Minter. L.A. also swiped former Ravens backs Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins in free agency. The familiar nature of the clubs offers an enticing matchup of power on power. And count me in any time Jackson and Herbert take the same field."

Ravens' Cornerback Group Named One of Most Improved Units After the Draft

The Ravens' cornerbacks group is one of the most improved units coming out of the draft, according to PFF’s Trevor Sikkema.

"Many thought the Ravens would select offensive line in the first round given their uncertainty moving forward at offensive tackle. Yet, with a lot of offensive tackles off the board, they opted for one of the talented cornerbacks who 'fell' in Nate Wiggins," Sikkema wrote. "They then double-dipped at the position again with another talented cornerback who 'fell' relative to the consensus board by grabbing T.J. Tampa in the fourth round. Both could be contributing players. Wiggins is a potential starter, even as a rookie."

Sikkema said Tampa was his favorite pick of the Ravens' draft class.

"This was a tough call, since the Ravens were able to get a lot of big board value out of Adisa Isaac, Tez Walker and Tampa, relative to where they were picked," Sikkema wrote. "But the Tampa selection had the widest gap in terms of where he was picked (130) and where he was on my board (51). I also really liked the selection because Baltimore already has Marlon Humphrey and Nate Wiggins on the team. That allows them to potentially use Tampa as a versatile safety when needed. His preference for off-coverage lends itself to some backend work."

On a related note, The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec named Tampa the Ravens' best value pick.

"Tampa was [The Athletic's Dane] Brugler's eighth-ranked cornerback at 55th overall," Zrebiec wrote. "The Ravens selected him at No. 130 in the fourth round. Three rounds after they took Nate Wiggins, they doubled down on cornerbacks by selecting a player expected to be taken relatively early on Day 2. Tampa doesn't have high-end speed, and his pre-draft process was disjointed after he declined an invitation to the Senior Bowl and couldn't work out at the NFL Scouting Combine because of a hamstring injury. The Ravens, though, were happy to stop Tampa's slide. They had considered taking him on Day 2 but opted against it because they already selected Wiggins."

Ravens Climb in The Athletic's Power Rankings

The Ravens moved up two spots to No. 4 in The Athletic's post-draft power rankings.

"Baltimore did Baltimore things in the draft, stockpiling players at premium positions up and down the board," Josh Kendall wrote. "The beauty of the Ravens' approach is they never seem to need immediate help. This is still the team that led the NFL in point margin last year (plus-203). Second-round offensive tackle Roger Rosengarten could end up being one of the steals of the draft."

The Ravens jumped over the Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers, but remained behind the Chiefs, 49ers, and Detroit Lions.

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