Bateman expected to debut, Watkins out for Ravens against Chargers


(Updated: Saturday 4:30 p.m.)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — While the Ravens will be without veteran Sammy Watkins for their Week 6 meeting with the surging Los Angeles Chargers, they’ll finally get their first look at 2021 first-round pick Rashod Bateman.

The 27th overall pick out of Minnesota is set to make his NFL debut after injuring his groin early in training camp and undergoing surgery on Aug. 13. Bateman began the season on injured reserve, but he was designated to return to practice on Sept. 29 and will debut in front of the home fans at M&T Bank Stadium after working his way back into football shape over these last 2 1/2 weeks.

“I’m very pleased. He obviously did a really nice job,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “Our trainers and strength coaches did a nice job on the rehab, and he’s done well. I think you probably can expect him to play in this game with Sammy being out. We’ll see how he does.”

(Update: On Saturday afternoon, the Ravens activated both Bateman and offensive lineman Tyre Phillips from injured reserve and elevated running back Le’Veon Bell and offensive tackle Andre Smith from the practice squad.)

Asked Thursday about Bateman’s progress in practices, offensive coordinator Greg Roman acknowledged the Ravens would “build him into the plan on a week-to-week basis” upon being activated. The play of Lamar Jackson’s weapons in the league’s sixth-ranked passing game certainly puts less pressure on the 6-foot-1, 193-pound Bateman to excel immediately, but there is much anticipation to get a look at the smooth receiver who impressed throughout the spring and early summer.

As for Watkins, who injured his hamstring in the second quarter of the 31-25 overtime win over Indianapolis, the question now becomes whether we’ll see the veteran before Baltimore’s Week 8 bye. The Ravens host Cincinnati a week from Sunday, but Harbaugh only confirmed that Watkins would sit out against the Chargers after missing the entire practice week.

“It’s a couple-week thing. He could be back next week. He could be back the week after,” Harbaugh said. “It just depends on how quickly the hamstring heals, but he’ll be out for this game.”

In addition to Watkins, the Ravens officially ruled out left tackle Ronnie Stanley, who will miss his fifth straight game while continuing to rehab his surgically-repaired left ankle. His replacement, Alejandro Villaneuva, was officially designated as questionable on the final injury report after missing practice time with left knee soreness for the second straight week. After sitting out Thursday, the 33-year-old practiced on a limited basis on Friday, which was the same path he followed last week before ultimately playing all 73 offensive snaps against the Colts.

Baltimore also listed starting safety DeShon Elliott (quad) and reserve Geno Stone (thigh) as questionable, but both were upgraded to full participation in Friday’s practice and appear likely to return. Elliott has missed the last two games after injuring his quad in the Week 3 win at Detroit while Stone sat out in Week 5.

After missing Thursday’s practice due to an illness, Lamar Jackson was a full participant and was not listed on the final game status injury report. This marked the third time in four weeks that the star quarterback had missed at least one practice, but there are no apparent concerns moving forward.

“Everything is OK,” Harbaugh said. “I’m not going to talk about specifically what it was, but it wasn’t a lingering thing.”

Two key names for the Chargers are uncertain to play with starting wide receiver Mike Williams (knee) and starting safety Nasir Adderley both questionable for Sunday. Los Angeles head coach Brandon Staley told reporters the Chargers remain “hopeful” that Williams can play despite missing practices all week with swelling in his knee. The 6-foot-4 Williams is off to an outstanding start to the season with 31 catches for 471 yards and six touchdowns, making his potential absence a significant development in a potential shootout.

Chargers inside linebacker Drue Tranquill was ruled out with a pectoral injury, a substantial blow for a run defense that was already struggling.

In long-term injury news, Harbaugh was asked about the progress of veteran tight end Nick Boyle, who remains on injured reserve while working his way back to full strength from last November’s significant knee injury. His healthy return would be a significant boost for a running game currently ranked sixth in the NFL in yards per carry (4.9) and struggling to get on track beyond the legs of Jackson.

“He’s progressing well. He’s doing a good job,” Harbaugh said. “I think he’s getting close. I would say that he’s getting close. He looks good in his workouts. So, fingers — eh, not fingers crossed. We’re not talking about luck here, you know? We’re looking forward to getting him back.”

Below is the final injury report for Week 6:

OUT: OT Ronnie Stanley (ankle), WR Sammy Watkins (thigh)
QUESTIONABLE: S DeShon Elliott (quad), S Geno Stone (thigh), OT Alejandro Villanueva (knee)

OUT: LB Drue Tranquill (chest)
QUESTIONABLE: S Nasir Adderley (hip), WR Mike Williams (knee)