Run­ning back Collins goes on IR, end­ing his sea­son

Starter has foot in­jury; Ed­wards has ex­celled in his ab­sence; Dixon ac­ti­vated

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - NEWS - By Jonas Shaf­fer

Ravens run­ning back Alex Collins was placed on in­jured re­serve Sat­ur­day, end­ing a dis­ap­point­ing sea­son for one of the NFL’s break­out stars of 2017.

Both­ered by an ail­ing knee ear­lier this sea­son, Collins was in­ac­tive for the Ravens’ win last Sun­day against the Oak­land Raiders with a foot in­jury. He did not prac­tice Wed­nes­day, was lim­ited Thurs­day and was a full par­tic­i­pant Fri­day, seem­ingly pro­gress­ing to­ward a re­turn to ac­tion.

“Even­tu­ally, those things heal,” coach John Har­baugh said of Collins’ foot in­jury Mon­day. “It’s not like a bone break or any­thing like that.”

His IR des­ig­na­tion comes al­most three weeks af­ter the emer­gence of un­drafted rookie Gus Ed­wards, who has paired with rookie quar­ter­back Lamar Jack­son to form one of the NFL’s top rush­ing at­tacks.

Collins started ev­ery game this sea­son un­til last Sun­day’s, but he was never as ef­fec­tive as dur­ing a 2017 sea­son when his Ir­ish danc­ing and down­hill run­ning style pro­pelled him out of anonymity. A year af­ter fin­ish­ing with 973 rush­ing yards, six touch­downs, 4.6 yards per carry and the dis­tinc­tion of be­ing Pro Foot­ball Fo­cus' top-rated run­ning back, Collins will en­ter re­stricted free agency this off­sea­son on a down­turn.

Be­hind an of­fen­sive line that strug­gled over the sea­son's first half, he av­er­aged 3.6 yards per carry and didn't have a run of longer than 19 yards. Collins’ sea­son high for rush­ing yards in a game this sea­son (68) was twice nearly dou­bled by Ed­wards, the team’s new starter. He also fum­bled three times, los­ing each.

“I think what’s most im­por­tant is that we just stay con­sis­tent with what we’ve been do­ing and stick­ing to the game plan,” Collins said in Oc­to­ber. “We watched the film, and it just shows that we’re right there at times, and it’s one player away, or one lit­tle mis­take away from big yards or a big gain or pos­si­bly a touch­down. That’s the most im­por­tant thing.”

In a cor­re­spond­ing move Sat­ur­day, the Ravens ac­ti­vated run­ning back Ken­neth Dixon. Har­baugh said Fri­day that Dixon was an "op­tion" to play to­day against the Fal­cons, and with Collins out, the Ravens could have Dixon join Ed­wards, Buck Allen and Ty Mont­gomery on the field in At­lanta.

The of­ten-side­lined Dixon suf­fered a knee in­jury in the sea­son opener. Af­ter be­ing des­ig­nated to re­turn from IR on Nov. 16, he had to be added to the 53-man ros­ter by Fri­day or else re­vert to IR for the re­main­der of the sea­son.

The chance to re­turn "means a lot,” Dixon told The Bal­ti­more Sun last week. “It shows that they be­lieve in me, and it shows that they know that I’ve been work­ing hard to get back. So I re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate it. Coach Har­baugh is a re­ally good guy. He told me to stay ready be­cause he wanted to see me back. I just wanted to come back and play.”

KEN­NETH K. LAM/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

Alex Collins, a break­out star last sea­son, av­er­aged just 3.6 yards per carry this sea­son and didn't have a run of longer than 19 yards.

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