Rashod Bateman ready to take the lead in Ravens' WR room following Marquise Brown trade: 'It's my time'

Rashod Bateman fired Baltimore's excitement engine well before the 2021 season began. Then an injury delayed his start and shortened his rookie season to just 12 games.

With a year of experience under his belt, Bateman enters his second season with his sights set on new heights. Greater responsibilities await him, too, following the trade of Marquise Liverpool to Arizona.

Bateman is prepared to embrace the challenge.

"All respect due to him, and I'm going to miss him because he's my brother, but it was like, it's my time," Bateman told teammate Marlon Humphrey on the cornerback's podcast "Studio 44".

Bateman arrived in Baltimore as a first-round pick out of Minnesota in 2021 and turned heads during the summer, leading many to anticipate a high-flying offense capable of stretching the field thanks to the receiving talents of Bateman and Brown. The Ravens did, in fact, improve through the air, recording their best per-game passing ranking (13th) in the Lamar Jackson era.

Still, it wasn't enough to help the Ravens reach their ultimate goals. A rash of injuries on both sides of the ball undercut Baltimore's ambition, with Jackson's ankle injury delivering the final blow, leading to an 8-9 finish and a postseason spent at home.

Never one to shy away from a significant trade, Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta fulfilled Brown's trade request, shipping the Oklahoma product (and the 100th-overall pick) to Arizona to reunite him with former Sooners teammate Kyler Murray. In return for Brown, DeCosta received the 23rd-overall pick, then sent the first-round choice to Buffalo for the 25th-overall pick and a fourth-round pick (No. 130).

In total, Baltimore added two draft picks in the 2022 draft in exchange for Brown. DeCosta then spent those choices on Purdue center Tyler Linderbaum and Penn State punter Jordan Stout. In the process, he also cleared the way for Bateman to take a more prominent role in Baltimore's offense.

"I feel like Baltimore drafted me for a reason. They drafted me to be in this position," Bateman said. "For me, all I've been waiting on is the opportunity. I know what I'm capable of, I feel like the Ravens organization knows what I'm capable of. I'm just excited to go out and finally show it to the fans and especially to my teammates, for sure."

Bateman is stepping into a leading role at a relatively early point in his career and knows he can't do it alone. The Ravens have spent ample draft capital on the position in recent years, adding SMU's James Proche and Texas' Devin Duvernay in the years prior to Bateman's arrival. The trio now comprises the top of Baltimore's depth chart at receiver.

"I hit up James. I was like, 'Bro, I'm going to need help leading this room,'" Bateman said. "Because Year 1 for me, I went through a lot dealing with an injury. So I'm like, 'How do you really do this?' Then I just watched how everybody else handled it and you've just got to do it. There's really no talking or being about it. I think that's where I get my leadership from."

Bateman is stepping into uncharted territory, but if his college tape and rookie-year flashes serve as an indicator of future success, he should be well-equipped to handle the added responsibility. The first goal, of course, is to remain healthy enough to complete a full season. Just as important is building on the rapport established between Bateman and Jackson in 2022, except this time around the Ravens will hope it leads to more than eight wins by the time they reach the end of the regular season.

Bateman believes a bright future is ahead for the group. Now it's up to him to prove the preseason buzz was more than just summer hype.

"I think I showed flashes last year," Bateman said. "I proved it to myself that I could play in this league. I feel like I just need to prove it to everybody else."

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