Running Back Kenneth Dixon Healthy, Could Help Spark Offense


The Ravens found a spark in the running game last week by inserting Terrance West into the starting lineup.

West made a case to seize the starting job by putting up 113 rushing yards and a touchdown, and the Ravens responded by cutting former starter Justin Forsett two days later.

But West's spot atop the depth chart is by no means guaranteed, and now he'll have to compete with rookie Kenneth Dixon who is healthy again after missing the first four games with a knee injury. Dixon returned to practice last week, and all indications are that he's ready to make his NFL debut Sunday against Washington.

"I just feel like I have to get out there and do the best job I can do," Dixon said after Wednesday's practice. "It's get the ball, read my one key and hit the hole as hard as I can. If that sparks us, it does. I'm just going to get out there and do my best."

Getting Dixon in the lineup may give the Ravens another playmaker they have been seeking.

The fourth-round pick out of Louisiana Tech showed promise throughout the summer, and looked like he might emerge as the Week 1 starter. He carried 22 times for 107 yards, and also added two catches for 21 yards over three preseason games.

But then he suffered a knee injury in the third preseason game, which knocked him out for about six weeks.

"It's been tough, but it's all part of football. There are injuries," Dixon said. "My knee feels great. [Head Trainer] Mark Smith and his staff did a great job getting me back, and helping me get confidence back in my leg so I can get out and perform."

Dixon was a full participant for the second time Wednesday, Head Coach John Harbaugh said, and the Ravens are eager to see what he'll provide.

"He showed flashes in preseason, which was exciting," Harbaugh said. "I think we're all excited about what he might do. We'll just have to see. That will be fun to see."

How the Ravens divide carries between West and Dixon – and potentially Javorius Allen, if he's active – remains to be seen. They mostly split the carries between West and Forsett through the first three games, but West took over a heavy workload last week by carrying 21 times.

"Whenever my number is called, I have to react to it," West said. "Everybody brings something different to the table. They're good at something. We have a great group of backs here, and I think we can get after it."

Harbaugh has declined to make any declarations about what West's performance against Oakland means for him in future weeks. He has the edge on the starting job at this point, but the Ravens have already shown this season their willingness to shake up the backfield to find the best fit.

Dixon's return makes the competition even tighter, and the Ravens hope that brings out the best of the young group.

"Someone can lose their job any given day. Nobody's job is guaranteed," West said. "That's how I look at it, no matter if [Harbaugh] says I'm the starter, or whatever. I still have that mentality that I got a chip on my shoulder, no matter what."

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