It seemed hardly a coincidence. On the same day the NFL announced that Ravens second-year running back Kenneth Dixon was suspended four games for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs, the team finalized a deal with veteran Danny Woodhead.
Woodhead joins a running back group that includes Terrance West (Northwestern High, Towson University), Dixon, Buck Allen, Lorenzo Taliaferro and Stephen Houston. West and Dixon were the Ravens' primary two ball carriers last season, but now Dixon will be sidelined for a quarter of the 2017 season.
According to Newsome, that wasn't the reason the Ravens opted to sign Woodhead to a three-year deal.
"We’ve known about Kenneth for a long time, but yes, we needed to add another element to our offense, and Danny brings that from the backfield, and we’re still working to try to do some other things at receiver and maybe offensive line," Newsome said. "But yes, he still would have been a big part of our conversation. We still would have signed him.”
The Ravens have spoken this offseason about adding playmakers. That's how they see Woodhead, who has 2,182 career rushing yards and 267 receptions and 2,498 receiving yards. Woodhead also has scored 32 career touchdowns.
"Playmakers come in all kind of different styles. There are different types of guys, athletes and things like that. Danny’s style is really unique," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "... In Danny’s case, you are talking about a guy who moves the chains, who can do it in any phase. He can run the ball, he can pass protect, he can catch the ball out of the backfield, and he can line up as a receiver and catch the ball. Those are the kinds of weapons that we need to move the chains and score points, and that is what we want to do.”
The Ravens often used fullback Kyle Juszczyk, who has signed with the San Francisco 49ers in free agency, as the lone back on third down, largely because West and Dixon both struggle to pick up the blitz. Woodhead could fill that third-down role, but it sounds as if the Ravens have even bigger plans for him.
And that's just fine for Woodhead, who says he's fully healthy after playing in only two games last year with the San Diego Chargers because of a torn ACL.
“I feel great. I really do," Woodhead said. "I was telling someone the other day when they were asking what the knee is like. I was like, ‘I was not going to come back if I could not do what I can do.’ I want to be able to be the player that I have always been, that I have been the last two or three years. I believe I am. Otherwise, I believe I would not have tried to come back. I am an all or nothing person, and that is what they are going to get here – all of me.”