Ravens wide receiver Rashod Bateman will make his NFL debut this weekend in a heavily anticipated matchup between two exciting young QBs in Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson and the Chargers’ Justin Herbert. Head coach John Harbaugh apprised reporters of the news today (Twitter link via Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic).
Baltimore activated both Bateman and guard Tyre Phillips from IR Saturday. Phillips has been out since Week 1 due to a knee injury that required cart transportation. He began the season as the Ravens’ starting left guard. This move comes shortly after the Ravens placed rookie fill-in Ben Cleveland, who has split time at left guard with Ben Powers, on IR. Baltimore promoted Le’Veon Bell and tackle Andre Smith from its practice squad as well.
The Ravens’ ground game, which was the club’s calling card over the past several years, has been subdued in 2021 thanks in large part to the aforementioned injuries to Dobbins and Edwards (and thanks to opposing defenses gearing up to stop the run). But Jackson has elevated his passing abilities and his receivers have played well, allowing Baltimore to sustain a productive aerial attack, which Bateman should further bolster.
Unfortunately (but not unsurprisingly), Bateman’s debut coincides with the loss of fellow wideout Sammy Watkins. Watkins signed a one-year contract with the Ravens this spring, and he had developed a strong rapport with Jackson, catching 18 passes for 292 yards (good for a 16.2 YPR mark, which would be the second-highest figure of his career). Watkins suffered a hamstring injury in Monday’s dramatic win over the Colts, and he has been ruled out for the Chargers game this week (Twitter link via Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com). There is no definitive timetable for Watkins at this point, but it does not sound like the team will put him on IR just yet.
Meanwhile, Baltimore continues to be without TE Nick Boyle. Boyle is an effective ancillary receiving target in his own right, but his primary contribution has been as a blocker. He is regarded as one of the best blocking tight ends in the league, and his return could help the running game get back on track. As with Watkins, there is no definitive return date for Boyle, but Harbaugh said the Delaware product will come off of IR soon (Twitter link via Hensley).
Boyle has been recovering from a severe knee injury he suffered last November, which ended his 2020 season prematurely.
Le’Veon Bell‘s Ravens debut could be coming soon. The team elevated the former All-Pro running back to its active roster Saturday, doing so while placing Derek Wolfe on IR.
Amid a brutal run of injuries at running back, the Ravens worked out Bell shortly before Week 1 and signed him to their practice squad. Baltimore promoted Devonta Freeman ahead of the ex-Steelers star but now will have Bell on its active roster as well in Week 4.
Bell joins Freeman, Ty’Son Williams and Latavius Murray on Baltimore’s 55-man Week 4 roster. Teams can dress up to 48 players each week. The Ravens have gone with a committee approach at running back, using Williams and Murray mostly. Freeman has seen sporadic work behind the team’s top duo.
To label Bell’s past three-plus years as underwhelming would be quite the understatement. Following Bell’s 2018 full-season holdout, the lucrative Jets deal he inked failed spectacularly. The Jets dropped Bell midway through last season. While the Chiefs picked him up, Bell saw scant action in the playoffs and was a healthy scratch for both the AFC championship game and Super Bowl LV. The Ravens extended the two-time All-Pro another chance, however, and Bell will likely soon begin his age-29 season.
Wolfe has not played this season and will miss his Denver homecoming game. The eight-year Broncos starter signed with the Ravens in 2020 and played in 14 games, but back and hip injuries have sidelined him since August. The veteran defensive lineman will be out through at least Week 6.
Two experienced players comprised part of the Ravens’ second wave of cuts Monday. The team released both tackle Andre Smith and safety Jordan Richards. Baltimore also waived wide receiver Michael Dereus. Teams have until 3pm CT Tuesday to trim their rosters from 85 to 80 players.
Smith had been with the Ravens since before their 2019 postseason began. Baltimore signed the former top-10 pick in January 2020 and re-signed him shortly after that season ended. However, Smith opted out of the 2020 season. The 34-year-old blocker is back in free agency, which has been a familiar place for him in the latter part of his career.
Smith’s initial Bengals run ended after the 2015 season. The team, however, did bring Smith back in 2017 and 2018 — following single- and half-season stints with the Vikings and Cardinals, respectively — and used him as a five-game starter in 2019. Cincinnati’s most recent Smith partnership ended with a November 2019 release.
A six-year veteran, Richards played in all 18 Ravens games last season. His primary contributions came on special teams; the Ravens used Richards on 79% of their special teams plays. Richards, 28, re-signed with the Ravens in January. He initially caught on with Baltimore midway through the 2019 season, after his second Patriots stint ended.
Ravens offensive lineman Andre Smith has opted out of the 2020 season, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). More than a dozen players have opted out as of this writing and that number figures to grow larger between now and the Aug. 1 deadline.
Smith, 33, hooked on with the Ravens at the end of the 2020 season to bolster their blocking unit in the playoffs. A former top-10 pick, Smith was once one of the game’s better protectors. He’s way past his prime, but the Ravens were hoping to have him around for depth. In total, Smith has appeared in 116 regular season games during his career, but he’s been somewhat limited since 2016 thanks to multiple injured reserve trips. He hasn’t earned a quality score from PFF since 2014.
Smith, who boasts 90 career starts and tons of earnings over the years, probably didn’t need the money this year. That’s especially true since his contract was at, or near, the veteran’s minimum.
Smith, 32, saw his latest stint with the Bengals come to an unceremonious end when he was cut in November. In January, the former top-10 pick hooked on with the Ravens as they geared up for the playoffs. After backstopping starters Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown, he’ll get an opportunity to stick around as a depth option this year.
Smith boasts 90 career starts, but he’s well past his prime at this point. To his credit, he did start much of the 2018 season with the Cardinals before his mid-season release.
In total, the 33-year-old has appeared in 116 games during his career, but he’s been slowed since 2016 thanks to injuries.
The Ravens have signed veteran tackle Andre Smith, the team announced. Yesterday, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweeted that Baltimore worked out Smith, along with younger linemen Darrell Williams and Tyler Jones, and obviously the team liked what it saw in the more experienced Smith.
Smith, 32, has not played since November, when the Bengals ended their latest stint with the former top-10 pick. He played in six games this season, starting five, for an embattled Cincinnati offensive line. The team waived the 11th-year veteran in late November, but no team claimed his contract. The Cardinals used Smith as a starter for much of 2018 but cut him during the season, leading the longtime Bengal back to Cincinnati. Smith has started 90 games during his career, but his prime obviously ended years ago. The Texans also auditioned Smith since his latest Bengals departure but did not sign him.
The Ravens opened practice for Saturday’s divisional-round game against the Titans without a tackle on their injury report, but Smith provides veteran insurance in case something should happen to starters Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brownduring their playoff run. James Hurst had served as the swing man behind Stanley and Brown, but he is probably more effective at guard.
Guard Parker Ehinger, who sat out Tuesday’s practice with a shoulder malady, has been placed on IR in a corresponding move.
Andre Smith‘s third stint with the Bengals ended in November, and he’s apparently started looking for his next gig. Veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer tweets that the offensive tackle worked out for the Texans today.
The Bengals selected Smith with the sixth-overall pick in the 2009 draft, and the Alabama product ended up spending his first seven seasons with the organization. Smith has bounced around the NFL a bit since that time, spending time with the Vikings, Bengals (second stint), and Cardinals.
Cincy brought Smith back during this past offseason, and the 32-year-old proceeded to appear in six games (five starts) for Cincy. In total, Smith has appeared in 116 games during his career, but he’s been somewhat limited since 2016 thanks to two trips to the injured reserve.
Balzer notes that the Texans also worked out offensive tackle Travis Vornkahl and tight end Paul Butler. Vornkahl spent the preseason with the Browns before getting cut, and he had a stint on the Redskins practice squad. Butler, 26, spent last season with the Raiders organization, and he’s had a pair of workouts with the Lions this year.
Andre Smith‘s third stint with the Bengals has come to an end. Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports (via Twitter) that Cincinnati has waived the veteran offensive tackle. The Bengals promoted tight end MasonSchreck from the practice squad to take the open roster spot.
The Bengals selected Smith with the sixth-overall pick in the 2009 draft, and the Alabama product ended up spending his first seven seasons with the organization. Smith has bounced around the NFL a bit since that time, spending time with the Vikings, Bengals (second stint), and Cardinals. Since 2016, he’s landed on the injured reserve twice with tricep and knee injuries.
This past offseason, the Bengals found themselves needing some offensive line depth after starting left tackle Jonah Williams suffered a season-ending injury and eight-year starter Clint Boling retired. The team brought in Smith, and the 32-year-old proceeded to appear in six games (five starts) for Cincy. Smith has only been active for one of the team’s last six games, but the Bengals presumably could have used another lineman after placing Alex Redmond on injured reserve yesterday.
Schreck joined the Bengals as a seventh-round pick out of Buffalo in 2017. The tight end appeared in six games as a rookie before landing on the injured reserve with a knee injury. He was waived by Cincy back in August and later landed on the Bengals’ practice squad.