Late For Work 7/26: Six Questions and Answers About Kenneth Dixon's Injury Situation

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Six Questions and Answers About Kenneth Dixon's Injury Situation

Questions are pouring in now that Kenneth Dixon's reported meniscus tear is more extensive than initially believed.

It's a tough blow for the second-year running back who was hoping to take a big step forward after showing flashes of great potential in his rookie season.

Here are six common questions and answers:

1) What happened to just missing four weeks of the season? Is it true Dixon is done for the year?

As of Tuesday morning, it was reported Dixon would approximately miss the first four weeks of the season, which coincided with his four-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. By Tuesday night, it was said he'd miss the entire season.

What happened?

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport explains in the video to the right that the plan was to just trim Dixon's meniscus. That type of repair takes four to six weeks to recover from. But once doctors began operating, they saw Dixon's meniscus needed a full repair, requiring a four-to-five-month recovery process. Rapoport said that will knock Dixon out for the season.

But, ESPN's Adam Schefter later reported that it's 50-50 whether Dixon will actually miss all of 2017. For now, he says there is no timetable and the team will discuss the options today.

2) How did Dixon tear his meniscus?

According to Rapoport, Dixon was training on his own. He would've reported to training camp with the rest of the veterans today.

3) Does Dixon have to wait until 2018 to serve his four-game suspension?

No, serving his suspension while on injured reserve (or any designation the Ravens may give him) counts. He doesn't have to be on the active roster.

4) How does this affect the running back corps?

Baltimore was hoping to see Dixon take the next step in his progression and compete with Terrance West for the starting job. West appears to have a greater grasp on that role now. The loss also opens the door for Buck Allen, who Zrebiec considered a bubble player before the Dixon news, and others to make the roster.

Here's how things look now …

"As the Ravens open training camp with their first full-squad practice set for Thursday morning, Terrance West (Towson University, Northwestern High) heads their running back depth chart," wrote Zrebiec. "Signed this offseason and coming off a knee injury, Danny Woodhead is behind West on the depth chart and is expected to be used extensively on third down and in the red zone."

Behind those top two, there's Allen and undrafted rookie Taquan Mizzell. Fullback Lorenzo Taliaferro could serve as tailback as well. There's also a report that the Ravens plan to re-sign Bobby Rainey, who was with the team in 2012 and 2013 after coming to Baltimore as an undrafted free agent.

"There's no question that if [Dixon is out for the season] it would constitute a significant loss for the Ravens," wrote Zrebiec. "Despite battling injuries, Dixon flashed at different points last season and showed, particularly in the Christmas Day game against the rival Pittsburgh Steelers, that he has the potential to be a lead back.

"But his absence doesn't mean the Ravens should be in panic mode at running back either. The cupboard is not bare."

Added NFL.com's Chris Wesseling: "The Ravens are confident they have a championship-caliber defense this season. To make it back to the playoffs, though, they're going to need marked improvement out of the running game."

5) Is Dixon's injury history becoming a concern?

The 2016 fourth-round pick has great potential, but his greatest challenge might be staying on the field.

"Dixon can be a key component in jump-starting a Baltimore running game that ranked No. 28 in the NFL last season," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley. "He was rated the second-most elusive back in the NFL last season by Pro Football Focus.

"… Dixon's knee surgery on Tuesday is the latest reminder that he has a ways to go before the Ravens can count on him being a featured running back. Since being drafted in the fourth round 15 months ago, Dixon has dealt with three knee injuries, a strained hamstring, a chest contusion and a four-game suspension."

6) Could the Ravens immediately sign any other free agents or make a trade to help?

Hensley reported the Ravens had interest in re-signing Rainey before Dixon was injured. They had been talking throughout the summer. If that is true, and they were going to add Rainey when Dixon was healthy, it seems reasonable that another addition could happen for depth.

"[P]erhaps the Ravens will take a look at available free agents such as Rashad Jennings, DeAngelo Williams, Khiry Robinson or James Starks," wrote Wesseling.

"If the team's brass is desperate enough to send out trade feelers, Carlos Hyde is a name to keep in mind. San Francisco's new regime has been reluctant to gift-wrap the starting job for the oft-injured power back. Hyde entered the league under former 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who is now a Baltimore assistant charged with revitalizing the ground attack."

That said, Zrebiec doesn't think the Ravens should make any moves at this point. He says the team should let the other backs try prove themselves this summer. And then, if Head Coach John Harbaugh and his coaching staff aren't comfortable with the progress, there will most definitely be a variety of backs available when teams have to cut rosters down to 53.

He says to keep an eye on potential cuts from a handful of teams.

"There will be plenty of opportunities to potentially upgrade at the position later this summer. In the NFL, the supply of running backs exceeds the demand and more quality ball carriers will hit the free-agent market in the weeks ahead," Zrebiec wrote. "A number of other veterans could find themselves looking for new homes later this summer. That list could include Alfred Morris (Dallas Cowboys), Matt Jones (Washington Redskins), Shaun Draughn (New York Giants) and Ryan Mathews (Philadelphia Eagles).

"[T]he Ravens' best play right now — at least if you ask me — is to do nothing at all beyond adding Rainey."

Projecting the Ravens' Starting Lineup

With veterans reporting for training camp today, Hensley takes a stab at what the starting lineup will look like come September. He says there could be as many as nine new starters.

This list will change by the end of camp, but this is how Hensley see things today:

OffenseQuarterback: Joe Flacco
Running back: Terrance West* *Tight end: Nick Boyle
Left tackle: Ronnie Stanley
Left guard: Alex Lewis
Center: John Urschel
Right guard: Marshal Yanda
Right tackle: James Hurst
Tight end: Benjamin Watson
Wide Receiver: Mike Wallace
Wide receiver: Jeremy Maclin

DefenseDefensive end: Brent Urban
Nose tackle: Michael Pierce
Defensive tackle: Brandon Williams
Outside linebacker: Terrell Suggs
Inside linebacker: C.J. Mosley
Inside linebacker: Kamalei Correa
Outside linebacker: Albert McClellan
Cornerback: Jimmy Smith
Free safety: Eric Weddle
Strong safety: Tony Jefferson
Cornerback: Brandon Carr

Special teamsKicker: Justin Tucker*Punter: Sam Koch Kickoff returner: Chris Moore *Punt returner: Michael Campanaro

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