TIFTON — The potential debut of Rashod Bateman this weekend for the Baltimore Ravens makes for three former Tift County Blue Devils active in professional football.
Once he suits up, Bateman will be the first former Blue Devil to play in an NFL game since Larry Dean was on Buffalo’s roster in 2014. He is the sixth Tifton native to appear in an NFL game, but almost encountered a former teammate in the pros.
Malik Henry, who played for Tift and West Georgia, signed as a free agent with the San Francisco 49ers and later with the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints, though Henry never had the opportunity to take the field in an official game with any squad.
Henry has since signed with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League, where he is making a big impact.
Against the Saskatchewan Roughriders last Saturday, Henry caught the first touchdown pass of his professional career to help lead Calgary to a 23-17 victory. It was one of two catches for Henry in the game. He has four receptions for 41 yards overall.
Henry also almost had a chance to play against someone from his hometown. Dean, longtime player in the CFL, signed with Saskatchewan earlier this year, but is out with an Achilles injury. Since 2016, Dean has played with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Edmonton Eskimos and Saskatchewan.