Photo Courtesy: USA Today

Kenneth Dixon’s Absence Opens Up Competition at Running Back

August 09, 2018 - 11:36 pm

By Joe Schiller

Kenneth Dixon was in pads, warming up and running routes before the Ravens second preseason per Jeff Zrebiec, only to begin the game on the sidelines, not in uniform. It marked the second game in a row Dixon has missed and the running back has yet to see the field in the preseason this year.

In Dixon’s absence, undrafted rookies Gus Edwards, Mark Thompson and De’Lance received carries behind starter Alex Collins. Edwards got the bulk of the load and led the way with 58 yards on 12 rushes, averaging 4.8 yards per carry.

After missing the entire 2017 season with a torn meniscus and a four-game suspension, the injury bug continues to bite Dixon. A hamstring issue has already hurt him this offseason and the inconsistencies begin to rack up. Dixon has shown flashes as both a runner and receiver but has played in just 12 games entering his third season with the Ravens. He’s suffered multiple knee injuries and suspensions, limiting his time on the field. And sooner or later, a real concern begins to set in.

As it stands, Alex Collins is the clear-cut starting running back. Buck Allen is the No. 2 option, serving as the Danny Woodhead-like running back. But behind those two is an open competition, especially in Dixon’s absence. The Ravens did not draft or sign a running back this offseason and the only additions came by way of undrafted rookies. 

The odds are on the side of the rookies. At least one undrafted rookie has made the Ravens roster in the past 14 seasons. With a 12-man draft class, that streak was destined to break this offseason but there’s a growing chance it could be extended. The NFL has transitioned into a running back by committee league and depth is extremely important for a backfield. 

Edward looks to be the favorite among the undrafted group and he’ll continue to make his case with three more preseason games left to play.