Despite entering just his third season with less than 100 carries under his belt, Ravens rusher Kenneth Dixon might already be facing a make-or-break training camp. The one-time ballyhooed prospect missed all of 2017 with a knee injury while also serving two suspensions for violating NFL drug policies. Dixon only has appeal based on reputation -- the odds of him staying healthy, not getting suspended and then landing a large role in the Ravens offense seem slim. Feel free to spend a late-round flier on Dixon, but don't expect him to be anything more than a role player for Baltimore.
Coach John Harbaugh mentioned Dixon as a player who has "started to really jump" during practice the last week, the Ravens' official site reports. Harbaugh indicated Dixon had to knock some rust off after an extended layoff from football, but that he's looked really good over the past week. Returning starter Alex Collins was mentioned in the same breath and figures to remain in the mix for the Ravens in 2018, suggesting the two may have separated themselves from the pack. As a rookie in 2016, Dixon averaged 4.3 yards per tote and caught 30 passes for 162 yards. Should he carve out an impactful role that includes consistent usage in the passing game, he may warrant fantasy consideration in some PPR formats.
Dixon indicated after Monday's practice that his knee "feels totally well" and he is ready to play, the Ravens' official site reports. Dixon was expected to challenge for the starting job in the backfield entering last season, but a four-game suspension followed by a season-ending meniscus tear ended his chances of seizing it. Alex Collins earned that title by averaging 4.6 yards per carry over 15 contests, falling just short of 1,000 rushing yards (973) for the campaign. While Collins enters 2018 in firm position to keep the starting gig, Dixon and Javorius Allen remain in the competition for carries and pass-catching opportunities as well. Dixon has proven particularly proficient in the latter of the two areas when healthy, hauling in 30 passes for 162 yards and a touchdown as a rookie in 2016.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh mentioned Dixon (knee), Alex Collins and Javorius Allen when discussing the team's backfield for 2018, Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun reports. "I think we have a whole good group of guys," Harbaugh said. "Obviously, we have a starter and Alex has proven that. He had a great year last year. He makes people miss. He breaks tackles, gets yards after contact. This is a player that makes stuff happen. He's exciting. I know our fans love him. And we're going to get Kenneth Dixon back. I think Buck Allen had his best year by far last year. He's kind of growing, coming into his own as a football player. Those are three really good backs." A 2016 fourth-round pick, Dixon averaged 4.3 yards on 88 carries and caught 30 passes in 12 games as a rookie, setting himself up to compete for the starting job last season. He instead ended up with a six-game suspension and a torn meniscus, ultimately sitting out his entire sophomore campaign. Collins seized the opportunity to rumble for 973 yards and six touchdowns on 212 carries (4.6 average), positioning himself as a clear favorite to reprise the lead role in 2018. However, he doesn't offer much as a pass catcher, and the Ravens released Danny Woodhead in March. Barring a backfield addition in the early rounds of the upcoming draft, Dixon and Allen figure to compete for a passing-down role, with the opportunity to also spell Collins on some early downs. Dixon is expected to be back at full strength for the offseason program, though the Ravens haven't explicitly confirmed that his rehab process is finished. LSU running back Derrius Guice -- a presumed first- or second-rounder -- was brought in Thursday for a predraft visit, but the Ravens still seem more likely to use their early picks on wide receivers, tight ends or offensive linemen.
Dixon (knee) will be ready when the Ravens begin OTAs, Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun reports. A torn meniscus ended Dixon's sophomore campaign before it could ever get off the ground as he suffered the injury early in training camp. Dixon was expected to enter the season with an edge over Terrance West as the Ravens' primary two-down back with Danny Woodhead set to take on pass-catching duties on third downs. It's encouraging that Dixon appears to be in line to resume football activities when Baltimore ramps things back up later in the spring, but he'll face a new challenge after Alex Collins enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2017 for the Ravens. With that, Dixon will likely enter OTAs as the fourth running back on the Ravens' depth chart.
Dixon (knee/suspension) had two more games tacked onto his four-game PED suspension due to a violation of the NFL's substance-abuse policy, NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reports. Already ruled out for the season, Dixon can serve all six games of the suspension while recovering from surgery to repair a torn meniscus. It will cost him in salary but not missed time, though it could impact how the Ravens view their 2016 fourth-round pick. Prior to the injury and pair of suspensions, Dixon was expected to mount a serious challenge to Terrance West for the lead role in Baltimore's backfield. The 23-year-old will instead look to bounce back in 2018, but he'll first need to avoid any additional suspensions, as the next one likely would cost him either 10 games or a full season.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|7||10/21||New Orleans Saints||12||17.22|
|14||12/09||@Kansas City Chiefs||20||17.76|
|15||12/16||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||29||19.13|
|16||12/23||@Los Angeles Chargers||23||18.38|
|3 Year Avg||44||191||1||15||81||0||33|