The Ravens revamped running game has another new look, as Kenneth Dixon was activated from injured reserve Dec. 1, and in a corresponding roster move, former starter Alex Collins was placed on IR with a foot injury.
Collins and the Ravens struggled to gain much traction on the ground over the first two months of the season. However, in two games since Lamar Jackson took over at quarterback because of an injury to Joe Flacco, undrafted rookie Gus Edwards has burst onto the scene with back-to-back 100-yard rushing games.
The Ravens have rushed for 509 yards in the past two games, the highest two-game total in team history, with Edwards rushing for 115 yards in a win against Cincinnati Nov. 18 and then 118 in a win versus Oakland Nov. 25. Collins did not play in the Raiders game because of the foot injury, but Edward's rise clearly meant a diminished role for Collins regardless.
The Ravens running back group now includes three players who were not on the 53-man roster as of Oct. 12. Edwards was on the practice squad then, Dixon was on injured reserve and Ty Montgomery was still a member of the Green Bay Packers. The lone holdover is Buck Allen, whose role, like that of Collins, has been diminished recently. Allen had just one offensive snap against the Raiders last week.
Collins had burst onto the scene for the Ravens last year after being cut at the end of training camp by the Seattle Seahawks, who drafted him in the fifth round in 2016. He led the Ravens in rushing last year with 973 yards rushing in 15 games.
Collins finishes this season with 114 carries for 411 yards and seven touchdowns. He is set to be a restricted free agent next spring.
Earlier this year, the Ravens struggled mightily in the running game. They ranked 27th in the league in rushing, averaging about 92 rushing yards a game before Jackson took over as the starting quarterback. Led by Edwards and Jackson, the Ravens chewed up more than 240 yards on the ground in each of the past two games and now rank 11th in rushing.
Dixon (5-10, 228 pounds) has played in just one game since his rookie year in 2016 when he ran 88 times for 382 yards and two touchdowns and also caught 30 passes for 162 yards.
Dixon missed all of last season with a knee injury, and also had to serve a pair of league suspensions that year. He was suspended for four games for a violation of the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs, then faced a two-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy.
Dixon won a roster spot out of training camp this season as the No. 3 running back and made his first regular-season appearance in a year against the Buffalo Bills in the season opener, with 13 carries for 44 yards and a touchdown. But he suffered a knee injury in that game and landed back on injured reserve.
Dixon was a fourth-round draft pick for the Ravens in 2016 out of Louisiana Tech, where he scored 87 touchdowns.
The Ravens (6-5) visit the Atlanta Falcons (4-7) Dec. 2 in a game that has major playoff implications. A victory would allow the Ravens to retain their grip on the sixth and final AFC playoff spot, but a loss would severely hurt their playoff hopes with road games still to come at the Kansas City Chiefs (9-2), Dec. 9 and Los Angeles Chargers (8-3), Dec. 22.