As feared, running back Kenneth Dixon's knee injury was worse than originally thought and he will be out for the entire season, Head Coach John Harbaugh confirmed Wednesday.
Dixon suffered a bucket-handle meniscus tear, which required a full repair and reportedly comes with a four-to-six-month recovery, while training at his alma mater, Louisiana Tech.
"Ironically the same [injury] I had in college my sophomore year," Harbaugh said. "I can tell Kenneth that, when he's 54, his knee is going to hurt."
Dixon still reported for training camp at the Under Armour Performance Center Wednesday, but he did so on crutches and with a large brace on his leg. He will begin rehabilitation as soon as possible.
It's a painful development for the talented second-year player and for the Ravens, who will hold their first full-team training camp practice Thursday.
Baltimore has seen three players that would have played significant roles this year* *– cornerback Tavon Young (knee), tight end Dennis Pitta (hip) and now Dixon – suffer season-ending injuries. Yet the Ravens won't let the injuries bring down the mood as they kick off camp.
"Just move forward with what we have, coach the guys we have," Harbaugh said. "I feel like we have lots of really good players, plenty of great players. We're deep at a lot of positions."
A fourth-round pick out of Louisiana Tech, Dixon emerged as his rookie season went on, running for 382 yards and two touchdowns (4.3 yards per carry) and catching 30 passes for 162 yards and one touchdown. He showed an impressive combination of elusiveness and power.
By the end of last season, Dixon was nearing a split of the workload with starter Terrance West. Although Dixon was slated to serve a four-game suspension to begin this season, expectations were that he would still become a big part of Baltimore's offense upon his return.
It's not Dixon's first knee injury. He missed time during last year's camp, then sat out the first four games of the regular season after injuring his knee in the preseason.
The Ravens, who are committed to rejuvenating their rushing attack, still have West and veteran free-agent addition Danny Woodhead as two leading backs. Baltimore reunited with running back Bobby Rainey on Wednesday and has Buck Allen, Lorenzo Taliaferro (fullback) and undrafted rookie Taquan Mizzell.
Baltimore could opt to add another leading ball carrier at some point during training camp. Dixon had the potential to be that kind of back.
"I remember at OTAs, every single time he touched the ball, him sprinting to the end zone and really making big bursts. I was really looking forward to his second season," wide receiver Mike Wallace said.
"But he's going to come back and be a better person and better player after going through something like this. It's a tough loss, but I know Ozzie [Newsome] and Coach [Harbaugh] are going to do what they need to do to put us in position."