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Ravens notes: Eager to get past suspension, Kenneth Dixon soaking in lessons from Danny Woodhead

The Baltimore Sun

Entering his second NFL season, running back Kenneth Dixon has gained more than a familiarity with the Ravens offense.

He also has a new mentor.

The 2016 fourth-round draft pick arrives at the Under Armour Performance Center at 6:30 a.m. every day to work out with Danny Woodhead, a veteran running back the Ravens signed from the San Diego Chargers in free agency. The two finish the sessions by reviewing plays in the sauna.

Dixon said it’s helped the two grasp the tweaks from new coaches in the playbook, which he expects will boost his production after serving a four-game suspension to start the season.

“It’s going to be very difficult, but it’s just something that I’ve got to deal with,” Dixon said, speaking to reporters for the first time since the NFL punished him for violating its policy on performance enhancing drugs. “We’re just ready to get past this and get ready for Game 5 and working really hard to come back strong.”

Dixon finished his rookie year with 88 carries for 382 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games.

From Woodhead, who’s recovering from a torn ACL that limited him to two games in San Diego last year after totaling 1,091 yards in 2015, Dixon has improved his hand placement and patience in his routes.

“Danny Woodhead — he’s a vet,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I tell them, ‘When you watch him run a route, whatever the route is, just do it like he does it.’ We can talk about all the coaching points we’ve got, but a picture is worth 10,000 words.”

Dixon also feels he’s acclimated to the new aspects of the offense under first-year offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris and senior offensive assistant Greg Roman.

“Kenny’s a sponge,” Harbaugh said. “He’ll do whatever you ask him to do as hard as he can, and he listens and he learns and he gets better every day by leaps and bounds.”

End zone: Harbaugh said tight end Dennis Pitta, who dislocated his right hip Friday for the third time, is still in the hospital after undergoing surgical “procedures.” The team released the veteran Wednesday. ... Tight end Crockett Gillmore left practice early and appeared to gesture to his hamstring. ... The signing of cornerback Brandon Boykin on Monday gives the Ravens an experienced option to fill the slot where Tavon Young was poised to play before suffering a torn ACL in his knee June 1. Speaking for the first time since the Boykin signing, Harbaugh said: “Brandon Boykin’s a proven pro in the slot. He’s done it in two different places. A great guy to work with out here. And we also have other guys. We have young guys that we’re excited about, and that’s what competition is all about.” … The Ravens practiced Thursday without 12 players because of a variety of injuries and ailments. They were: tight ends Benjamin Watson (knee surgery), Darren Waller (unspecified) and Maxx Williams (knee surgery); wide receivers Michael Campanaro (sprained toe) and rookie Quincy Adeboyejo (undisclosed); cornerbacks Young and Sheldon Price (concussion), linebackers Terrell Suggs (coach’s decision) and C.J. Mosley (offseason shoulder surgery), right guard Marshal Yanda (offseason shoulder surgery), running back Buck Allen (unspecified) and defensive tackle Carl Davis (pectoral). … Former Ravens wide receiver and current NFL Network analyst Steve Smith Sr. attended practice with a camera crew in tow.

ccaplan@baltsun.com

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Baltimore Sun reporter Edward Lee contributed to this article.

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