Already short-handed, Ravens poised to start training camp
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Training camp hasn’t even started yet, and the Baltimore Ravens already have a lengthy injury list.
Running back Kenneth Dixon will miss the season because of a torn meniscus in his left knee, coach John Harbaugh announced Wednesday.
The injury occurred while Dixon was working out with strength and conditioning coaches at Louisiana Tech, where he played for four years.
As a rookie last season, Dixon ran for 382 yards, caught 30 passes for 162 yards and scored three touchdowns.
Dixon was already slated to miss at least the first month of the season after receiving a four-week suspension from the NFL in March for using performance enhancing drugs.
To fill the void, Baltimore on Wednesday signed free agent running back Bobby Rainey, who broke into the league with the Ravens in 2012 and played with the New York Giants last season.
When the Ravens hold their first training camp practice on Thursday, they will be without four key players from last season’s 8-8 club.
Tight end Dennis Pitta sustained a third hip fracture; cornerback Tavon Young was lost with a torn left ACL; and tight end Darren Waller received a one-year suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
It’s hardly an ideal situation, but Harbaugh intends to simply plow ahead this summer as he molds a team he hopes can reach the playoffs after two straight misses.
“Just move forward with what we’ve got,” Harbaugh said. “I feel like we’ve got plenty of great players. We’re deep at a lot of positions, so I’m excited.”
Defensive tackle Brandon Williams added: “The show must go on. The front office does a great job of plugging in guys can come in and just ball up for us.”
General manager Ozzie Newsome put heavy focus this offseason on shoring up a defense that allowed 114 points over the last four games of the 2016 season. Free agent defensive backs Brandon Carr and Tony Jefferson, along with top draft pick Marlon Humphrey, join veteran stars Jimmy Smith and Eric Weddle.
The goal this summer is for the newcomers to meld with the old line to form a defense in the tradition of Baltimore’s past.
“I feel like our defense is going to be something real special this year,” Williams said. “We’re going to be a family and just play Ravens football.”
Terrance West will be the lead running back operating behind a suspect offensive line. John Urschel will get a close look at center and James Hurst tops the depth chart at right tackle in place of departed free agent Rick Wagner.
One of the biggest free agent additions of the offseason will don the pads with the Ravens for the first time this week. Jeremy Maclin was signed in June as a deep threat to join with Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman.
After passing the conditioning test on Wednesday (he failed it on his first try last year), Wallace spoke delightedly about the prospect of working in tandem with Maclin.
“We’ve got a guy who’s had multiple 1,000-yard seasons and Pro Bowls,” Wallace said. “I know that guy, I know what type of person he is and what he stands for. We’ve not only added a great player, we’ve added a great person. You can’t have too much of that on a football team.”