OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Struggling to get their ground attack going despite a 3-0 start, the Ravens are moving closer to welcoming back a talented rookie who could provide a lift.
Running back Kenneth Dixon practiced on a limited basis on Wednesday for the first time since tearing the medial collateral ligament in his left knee on Aug. 27. Wearing a knee brace, the fourth-round pick was working off to the side during the portion of practice open to media, but Dixon turned heads in the preseason by averaging 4.9 yards per carry, leading many to believe he might be Baltimore’s best back.
The Ravens enter Week 4 ranked 26th in the NFL in rushing yards per game and 30th in yards per carry at just 3.3, but head coach John Harbaugh is trying not to place unreasonable expectations on Dixon.
“He’s a rookie, so I think a lot of what he can provide is yet to be determined,” Harbaugh said. “He showed flashes in the preseason, which was exciting. I think we’re all excited about what he might do. We’ll just have to see. That will be fun to see.”
Outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil (foot) was a full participant in practice after missing his third straight game on Sunday. The 32-year-old was a limited participant in workouts last Wednesday and Thursday before ultimately sitting out against Jacksonville.
A good week of practice would put him in position to make his return against Oakland in Week 4.
Seven players were missing from Wednesday’s practice: wide receivers Steve Smith and Kamar Aiken (thigh), defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (knee), and offensive linemen Marshal Yanda, Jeremy Zuttah, Alex Lewis (concussion), and Ronnie Stanley (foot).
The organization confirmed that Smith, Yanda, and Zuttah were attending the funeral of longtime defensive line coach Clarence Brooks in Massachusetts on Wednesday. Assistant coaches Don Martindale, Chris Hewitt, and Drew Wilkins were also at the funeral. A team spokesman said a number of other coaches and players went to the viewing for Brooks on Tuesday as Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti chartered a plane for members of the organization to attend the services.
“It was just really a great moment in terms of seeing the family that ‘C.B.’ had around him and the family that he built in so many ways,” Harbaugh said. “We see how he affected us every single day here and the lives that he impacted — guys who are here and guys over the years — but it was cool to see the impact he had in his own town and with his own family.”
Brooks died on Sept. 17 at the age of 65 from esophageal and stomach cancer.
Oakland was without two starting members of its offensive line on Wednesday as center Rodney Hudson (knee) and right tackle Menelik Watson (calf) were both absent from practice.
Below is Wednesday’s full injury report:
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Kamar Aiken (thigh), DT Timmy Jernigan (knee), G Alex Lewis (concussion), WR Steve Smith (non-injury), OT Ronnie Stanley (foot), G Marshal Yanda (non-injury), C Jeremy Zuttah (non-injury)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: RB Kenneth Dixon (knee), RS Devin Hester (thigh), CB Sheldon Price (thigh)
FULL PARTICIPATION: LB Elvis Dumervil (foot), G John Urschel (shoulder)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: OT Austin Howard (ankle), C Rodney Hudson (knee), RB Taiwan Jones (knee), OT Menelik Watson (calf)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: S Nate Allen (quadriceps), OT Matt McCants (knee)