It sure didn’t look like Kenneth Dixon hadn’t played in an NFL game in more than 19 months.
The Ravens’ third-year running back had a strong showing in Monday night’s 20-19 win over the Indianapolis Colts in Baltimore’s third preseason game.
Dixon led the Ravens in yards from scrimmage (56) despite getting less than a third of the offensive snaps. He rushed six times for 32 yards (5.3 yards per carry) and added a team-high three catches for 24 yards.
It’s that kind of dual threat that made Dixon a buzz-worthy name and candidate for the starting running back job last offseason before his season-ending knee injury. Head Coach John Harbaugh said he was “really looking forward” to watching Dixon Monday night, and he was pleased with what he saw.
“[He] made some good, hard runs. He’s a physical, quick guy,” Harbaugh said. “That was good and that was big for us. That two-minute drive was really good and I think he did a good job.”
What’s notable is that Dixon also looked good despite not being 100 percent healthy yet, Harbaugh said. Dixon is still working to knock off the rust and get into peak physical shape.
Staying healthy has been a major problem for Dixon so far in his young career. The 2016 fourth-round pick missed four games because of a knee injury in his rookie season, then suffered a bucket-handle meniscus tear in his knee just before training camp last year. A reported hamstring injury sidelined him for Baltimore’s first two preseason games.
The Ravens are looking for a third running back to emerge behind starter Alex Collins and Javorius Allen, who also looked good with three carries for 19 yards and two catches for 11 yards (though he also fumbled one handoff). After Monday night’s showing, it appears Dixon has a strong hold on that job and could push for a major offensive role this season.
Undrafted running back Gus Edwards led Baltimore with 43 rushing yards against the Colts, but did it on 15 carries (2.5 per rush). Fellow undrafted running back Mark Thompson ran twice for 15 yards.
Dixon emerged as a rookie when he rushed 88 times for 382 yards (4.3 per carry) and caught 30 passes for 162 yards. He scored three touchdowns in total and was a force down the final stretch of the season.