The Baltimore Ravens haven’t even played a game yet and they have already lost 3 of their potential starters for the 2017 season. The recent addition to the IR list for this team is dual threat back Kenneth Dixon, who was expected to take over the starting role after serving his 4 game suspension for PED use. Everybody knew that Dennis Pitta was playing on borrowed time with his hip issue but when two of your young stars (Tavon Young and Kenneth Dixon) go down with major knee injuries, so early in thier careers, its time to look at what’s causing this. One has to wonder if the Ravens are doing their due diligence on properly conditioning these players or its just a run of bad luck.
The news of Dixon’s injury now puts the signing of Bobby Rainey into perspective, especially since he was a preseason stud for the Ravens in 2012. Like Dixon, Rainey suffered a knee injury in 2012 that caused him to never play a game in a Ravens uniform, until now, maybe. In the pros, someone’s misfortune is someone else’s opportunity and now is the chance for Rainey to get that starting back role he’s always wanted. Terrance West will not give up that spot so easily as he has much to prove after his 2016 campaign of 774 yards and 5 touchdowns. Before training camp started the Running Back position battle appeared to be for who was going to take the 4th spot but now it’s a wide open competition.
The other dynamic of training camp that could impact the Running Back battle are camp cuts. Every season, there are always quality players that are cut due to either lack of roster space or some undrafted rookie upstages a cagey veteran. Backs in danger of being cut are Dion Lewis (Patriots), Alfred Morris (Cowboys) and Carlos Hyde (49ers). I’m sure the Ravens will keep an eye on the Dion Lewis situation as it seems that it’s James White’s position to lose and Lewis is entering the last year of his contract. Carlos Hyde is another one to watch because new Head Coach Kyle Shanahan’s running game style doesn’t fit with what Hyde is used to. The Ravens Marty Mornhinweg likes to run a West Coast offense based on zone running schemes, which Hyde thrived under at Ohio State and even Chip Kelly’s short stint in San Francisco.
Injuries are part of the game in football but it seems the Ravens have been plagued with the bug more than other teams. That, however, cannot be an excuse because every team goes through injury crises at some point during the season and it’s all about who has the depth to not miss a beat. I believed Ozzie when he said that “We’re not done” when is it comes to adding talent to the team and it’s nice for an organization to have such a proactive GM that pounces when injuries like Dixon happen. The Ravens have 5 weeks to see what the final 53 man roster will look like and, like many seasons before, some of the players may not be on the roster yet.