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Ravens activate Danny Woodhead off IR; running back is expected to face Packers

Ravens activate Danny Woodhead off IR; running back is expected to face Packers
Ravens running back Danny Woodhead should boost the team's offense Sunday with his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. (Lloyd Fox / Baltimore Sun)

The Ravens will have another potential offensive weapon in the fold Sunday when they face the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.

Ten weeks since he went down with a hamstring injury in the Ravens’ season-opening victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, veteran running back Danny Woodhead has been activated off injured reserve and is expected to play against the Packers.

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To make room on the 53-man roster, the Ravens waived Gavin Escobar, leaving them with four tight ends on the roster. The Ravens signed Escobar on Oct. 23, and he was active for two games with them but he did not have a reception.

Woodhead, 32, has been practicing for the past two weeks as the Ravens tabbed him as one of their two allowable players – cornerback Maurice Canady was the other – to return off injured reserve. Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Friday that Woodhead has looked good practice and “went through most of everything we did.”

In order to return this season, Woodhead had to be promoted to the active roster by next week or he would have remained on injured reserve for the rest of the season. Convinced that the diminutive running back is healthy enough and could help them Sunday in a key game for their playoff hopes, the Ravens decided not to wait any longer to activate him.

Woodhead is expected to occupy the third-down back role for the Ravens, who now have a glut of running backs with Terrance West (Northwestern High, Towson University) also back healthy, joining starter Alex Collins, Buck Allen and Woodhead. It’s unclear where West, who is healthy again after missing four games with a calf injury, fits into the backfield picture.

The Ravens signed Woodhead to a three-year. $8.8 million deal in March, believing he would become a nice addition to the offense and a trusted target for quarterback Joe Flacco. A nine-year pro, Woodhead missed most of the preseason with a hamstring injury. He returned ahead of the start of the regular season and played a key role on the Ravens’ first offensive drive of the season.

Against the Bengals, Woodhead had three receptions for 33 yards and one rushing attempt for four yards before he hurt his hamstring as he was running a route just outside the Cincinnati end zone. Woodhead was carted to the locker room and he hasn’t played in a game since.

The veteran has struggled with injuries in recent years, but when healthy, he’s been one of the top pass-catching running backs in the NFL. Woodhead caught 76 passes for the San Diego Chargers in 2013 and 80 for them in 2015. He, however, missed 13 games in 2014 and 14 last year. Both extended absences were caused by knee injuries.

Ravens players spent much of the week preparing for the Packers and talking about how much the return of Woodhead could help an offense that has struggled all season.

“I think you got a little taste of Danny the first week and what he can do,” Flacco said Wednesday. “He’s also a guy that knows what he’s doing in protection and can give you a lot of things, obviously. We all know he’s a good athlete. He catches the ball out of backfield well and does a lot of those things. I know he’s out here working to get himself healthy and get himself going. So, we’ll see.”

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