Ravens Get Good News On Kenneth DixonConsidering how running back Kenneth Dixon couldn't put any weight on his knee after it was awkwardly bent by defensive tackle Haloti Ngata in a goal-line stand during Saturday's win over the Detroit Lions, the Ravens got good news when an MRI revealed he will not require surgery, per multiple reports.
If the diagnosis is correct, Dixon could return Week 3 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. With such a short turnaround, he'd also be worth keeping on the 53-man roster (more on roster decisions below).
I'm guessing nobody had a bigger smile on his face upon hearing* *the news than quarterback Joe Flacco, who gave Dixon a glowing review last week.
"Dixon was the Ravens' best runner this preseason," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley, noting the rookie's team-leading 107 rushing yards on 22 carries.
"Dixon has the potential to be an impact rookie as a fourth-round pick, showing excellent acceleration and the ability to make people miss," added CSNMidAtlantic.com's Clifton Brown.
This is Dixon's third injury since being drafted by the Ravens. He missed some of the OTAs with a hamstring injury, and* *sprained the same MCL in his left knee on the first day of training camp and missed about a week.
The Ravens certainly have enough backs to absorb the loss for a few weeks with Justin Forsett, Buck Allen and Terrance West. But the fourth-round selection was moving up the depth chart before the latest setback, looking like the No. 2 back as he came off the bench just behind Forsett against Detroit.
"[A]nd frankly, if he kept it up, the starter's job was not out of reach," wrote Ravens columnist John Eisenberg.
Injuries Jumble Roster Decisions
All summer, we've been talking about the depth at offensive skill positions, wondering if the Ravens could find a way to keep four tight ends and five running backs (including fullback Kyle Juszczyk).
Last week, Ravens Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman said things always seem to work themselves out.
With the season-ending Achilles tear to veteran tight end Benjamin Watson, he could be right. Watson's injury, along with the suspensions of Nick Boyle (10 games) and Darren Waller (four games), mean the Ravens could more easily narrow down to three tight ends with Crockett Gillmore, Dennis Pitta and Maxx Williams.
That seems like a clean, straight-forward decision. Only, it requires Pitta (finger) and Williams (undisclosed) to return to the field.
"One of their biggest roster questions was whether they could afford to carry four tight ends, which might have left them thin at another position," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec. "Watson's injury could make that a moot point — or the uncertainty around Williams and Pitta could prompt the team to carry four tight ends anyway.
"The Ravens, who frequently use multiple-tight-end sets, are largely dependent on Gillmore, Williams and Pitta getting and staying healthy. That's been tough for all three players."
If the three tight ends can buck the injury bug that's plagued them the last couple years, the Ravens could have an easier time justifying four tailbacks and a fullback. As Zrebiec pointed out, Head Coach John Harbaugh has kept just three tailbacks in seven of his eight years at the helm.
"Dixon's injury could complicate the Ravens' decision at running back, both in terms of how many the Ravens keep and who gets the bulk of the carries," Zrebiec wrote. "But having only three tight ends would make it easier to carry five backs."
Ravens Expect To Injury-Waive Matt Elam
Matt Elam's time in Baltimore may come to a close this week.
The Ravens must trim their roster to 75 players by tomorrow at 4 p.m., and Hensley tweeted three of the 12 moves that are expected.
They will place Watson and third-round rookie defensive end Bronson Kaufusi (ankle) on injured reserve, and injury-waive safety Matt Elam.
That means that if Elam clears waivers, the Ravens can either place him on injured reserve or offer him an injury settlement and release him. Hensley said Elam is a candidate for the injury settlement.
"It was already going to be an uphill climb for him to make the roster, and now that he has to get arthroscopic knee surgery that will sideline him for a significant portion of time, it looks like the door will finally be shutting for Elam in Baltimore," wrote Baltimore Beatdown's Jacob Louque.
Ronnie Stanley Nearly Perfect Through Three Games
It's been a limited sample size through three preseason games and grades, but Ravens rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley has been nearly perfect.
So far, Stanley has allowed just a single pressure, according to Pro Football Focus. He's allowed zero hits, zero sacks and just one quarterback hurry.
Stanley isn't just dominating NFL backups either. He's been playing against first-team defenders, including Saturday against Pro Bowl pass rusher Ezekiel Ansah, who was third in the NFL last season in sacks (14.5).
Stanley's play garnered big praise.
"If I had to pick one first-round pick who's looked the most impressive this preseason, it would have to be [Stanley]," wrote PFF's Michael Renner. "We've seen over the past few years how difficult it is making the jump from college to the pros along the offensive line, but Stanley has been as clean as can be."
Cleveland Browns Cut Former Ravens Pass Rusher Paul Kruger
Ravens 2009 second-round draft pick Paul Kruger was among the Cleveland Browns' first roster cuts as the team gets down to 75 players, according to Cleveland Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot.
"Kruger, 30, was by far the biggest name among the cuts, but his production this preseason wasn't up to the Browns standards this summer," Cabot wrote. "Kruger admitted recently that his pass-rush wasn't where it needed to be and that he needed to improve."
Kruger's production has dropped over the years, going from 11 sacks in 2014 to 2.5 last year.
The Browns gave Kruger a blockbuster $40.5 million contract in 2013 after he had his best season during the Ravens' Super Bowl run, notching nine sacks. He added another 4.5 during the Ravens' four postseason games.
After Haloti Ngata Does Damage Against Ravens, He Says He Wants To Return
Ngata did some damage against his former team Saturday night.
He was responsible for inflicting the MCL tear on Dixon (unintentionally, of course), delivered the first sack on Flacco since returning from ACL injury, and had fun with kicker Justin Tucker by interrupting his field goal celebration.
The Ravens paid tribute to both Ngata and former Ravens Super Bowl standout Anquan Boldin on the video boards during the game, which prompted a loud ovation from fans in attendance.
After the game, Ngata was asked for his reaction to Ravens fans' warm welcome on his first visit back to M&T Bank Stadium.
"It was pretty awesome," he said. "I think, definitely, I want to be back when I'm done with the Lions."
Outside linebacker and good friend Terrell Suggs would not object.
Could Jeremy Butler Start? Could Buck Allen Be Cut?
There's still question as to whether undrafted wide receiver Jeremy Butler can make the 53-man roster going into the regular season. The Ravens would likely need to keep seven receivers to do it.
Butler has led the team in catches so far this preseason, and has showed off his playmaking ability with diving receptions like this.
But Hensley just took the conversation from Butler making the team to … starting?
In his post-game analysis, Hensley listed Butler in the category, "Maybe that dude could start."
"This category would've gone to rookie running back Kenneth Dixon before he had to be helped off the field with a knee injury. Butler, who entered the game tied for the NFL preseason lead in catches, scored a touchdown for the second consecutive week."
If the Ravens are looking for room for Butler, Hensley has another bold idea to trim down at running back.
"Is Buck Allen in danger of not making the team?" Hensley asked. "The second-year player entered Saturday listed No. 2 on the depth chart but was the fourth running back to get into the game. Allen didn't get an offensive snap until there were three minutes left in the first half. A fourth-round pick in 2015, Allen has been the least impressive in a running-back group that includes Forsett, Dixon and Terrance West."
Baltimore Sun Photographer Catches Bats 'Scoring' In End Zone During Game
I can't believe I'm writing this. But it literally happened.
A Baltimore Sun photographer captured photos of two bats … uh … "scoring" in the end zone during the Ravens-Lions matchup. Butler looked oh so close to squishing the couple on his way to scoring himself.
Harbaugh said Webb was held out due to back stiffness. Nothing serious. — Brian Bower (@sportguyRSR) August 28, 2016
Jernigan with bad bad discipline on hitting Stafford. Gives Lions a chance for long field goal. — Brian Bower (@sportguyRSR) August 28, 2016