The Baltimore Ravens lost 24-20 in disappointing fashion to the New York Giants in Week 6. It was the second game in a row where Baltimore was without their primary wide receiver, Rashod Bateman. Bateman had exited the Week 4 matchup against the Buffalo Bills with a foot injury. Prior to his injury, Bateman was the team’s WR1. Over four games, Bateman had accrued 243 yards and two touchdowns on just 11 receptions (a whopping 22.1 yards per reception). While he does not fulfill a ‘possession’ role for the team, Bateman’s big-play ability had been key to exposing opposition defenses vertically. Bateman’s absence saw the team use Devin Duvernay and Demarcus Robinson as their primary wide receivers. However, they were contained effectively by the Giants secondary, leaving the Ravens to rely on their exceptional tight end room. Though the team lost, the Ravens tight ends were reliable in becoming Lamar Jackson’s go-to targets.
Ravens Tight Ends Reliable During Rashod Bateman’s Absence
From Todd Heap to Mark Andrews, the Ravens have seemingly always had effective tight end play. 2022, however, is special. Many would claim that this year’s group is the deepest that the Ravens tight end room has ever been.
The team continue to rely on Mark Andrews as Jackson’s primary pass-catching threat. He has 455 yards and five touchdowns on 39 receptions so far. Against the Giants, Andrews posted an impressive 106 yards and a touchdown from seven catches.
There is no doubt that Andrews is one of the best tight ends in the league. His supporting cast, however, is not to be overlooked.
Tight Ends Rise to the Occasion
Isaiah Likely was drafted by the Ravens in the 2022 NFL Draft. Over the off-season, Likely impressed coaches with his athleticism and route-running. It led to many believing that he could play a big role for the Ravens as a rookie, with coaches suggesting that he would be the side’s ‘third receiver’. Likely has yet to have that sort of impact. His limited playing time has seen him catch just nine passes for 88 yards. However, since Bateman’s injury, Likely’s role has expanded. He has seen six targets over the last two games. Through the season, expect Likely to see more touches given the volatility of Baltimore’s wideouts.
Lamar Jackson 19-yd pass to Isaiah Likely moves the sticks#Ravens 0 #Giants 0 Q1 pic.twitter.com/jdfOKtYoyM
— Sᴘᴏʀᴛs 24/7 (@Sports_24x7_) October 16, 2022
Josh Oliver is the only other tight end that has seen decent playing time. He also saw a bump in targets in Bateman’s absence. Nick Boyle, the team’s second-highest paid tight end is primarily used as a blocker (though he has seen limited snaps) and rookie Charlie Kolar currently sits on IR.
The Ravens tight ends were reliable in filling in as the primary targets. With depth and talent at the position, Baltimore know they can rely on their tight end room.
The Wide Receiver Room and Bateman’s Return
So far, the Ravens wideouts have been inconsistent. Duvernay saw a blistering start to the season, catching multiple touchdowns in the first few weeks as well as scoring a kick-off return touchdown against the Miami Dolphins.
Duvernay was seen as the heir to Bateman against the Cincinnati Bengals. In Week 5, he managed 78 yards on eight touches. However, since Bateman’s exit against the Bills, Duvernay has yet to score a touchdown. The reason for this is clear. Bateman had previously opened up a lot of opportunities for Duvernay. However, his absence has meant that defenses can focus on Duvernay much more. The 25-year-old’s role as a ‘secret weapon’ is not as effective without Bateman’s outside threat.
Demarcus Robinson has been unspectacular. As the team’s WR2 against the Giants, Robinson managed just three catches for 27 yards. He is a decent backup but is not as dangerous as Bateman.
Despite being primed for more playing time, Tylan Wallace has hardly seen the field. James Proche has also been disappointing.
Without Bateman, the thinness of the Ravens wide receiving corps is exposed. Since Bateman went down, the team signed former Arizona Cardinal, Andy Isabella, to the practice squad and have also reached out to 35-year-old DeSean Jackson. Neither of these seem desirable options though.
The good news for Baltimore is that Bateman’s status seems to be trending positively. John Harbaugh recently suggested that he could be back for Week 7, though an update will come soon.
If Bateman returns, then the Ravens can revert to the system that saw Duvernay flourish at the start of the season. The Ravens tight ends are reliable, and will continue to be so, but the big-play ability of the Bateman-Duvernay tandem is important in ensuring maximum efficiency for Jackson’s offense.
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