Ravens second-year running back Kenneth Dixon has been suspended four games without pay for violating the league's policy on performance enhancing drugs, the NFL announced Thursday afternoon.
Dixon, 23, was a fourth-round draft pick last season out of Louisiana Tech. He ran for 382 yards and two touchdowns on 88 carries in his rookie campaign.
"I want to apologize to the Ravens organization, my coaches, teammates and fans," Dixon said in a statement. "Being an NFL player is a privilege that comes with many responsibilities, including knowing the contents of any and all foods and supplements put in your body.
"I mistakenly took a substance without the proper NFL medical exemption, and while it was unintentional, I accept full responsibility for my actions and their consequences. I am truly sorry for the mistake I made and the distraction it causes. Moving forward, I remain committed to focusing on my offseason training, conditioning and game preparation so I can be an immediate impact player for the Ravens when my suspension is over."
Dixon is eligible to participate in the entire offseason program and play in preseason games, and the suspension will start the first week of the season.
"While we are disappointed in the mistake Kenneth made, we appreciate the fact that he has assumed responsibility for his actions," General Manager Ozzie Newsome said. "Kenneth is a good person, but he must learn from this and take the proper steps to rebuild trust within the organization, especially with his coaches and teammates."
After missing the first four games of last season because of a knee injury, Dixon came on strong at the end of year. He flashed good speed, elusiveness and playmaking ability, and was expected to challenge incumbent Terrance West for the starting job this offseason.
If Dixon does eventually earn the starting job, it will have to come after he serves the four-game suspension to start the season. Dixon's suspension gives West and expected newcomer Danny Woodhead and opportunity to carve out a big role for themselves in his absence.