Terrance West looks forward to facing hometown team

Former Towson running back expected to start for Browns

September 17, 2014|By Jon Meoli | The Baltimore Sun

Terrance West is over the fact that his hometown Ravens did not draft him.

Now, the former Towson Tiger is focused on being the featured running back for the upstart Cleveland Browns. That his opportunity continues against a Ravens team that he developed many ties to makes it more special.

"It's going to be fun, like playing against another high school," West told reporters on a conference call Wednesday. "Back in high school, I played at Northwestern. It's like playing against Forest Park — guys that you know."

West, the Browns' third-round pick (94th overall), is again listed as the Browns' starting running back this week. A sprained knee kept Week 1 starter Ben Tate out of last Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints.

Tate did not practice on Wednesday and is unlikely to play on Sunday against the Ravens, giving West the chance to build to build on his 100-yard performance in Week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers and his 68-yard, one touchdown game against the Saints.

After two games, West is the leading rookie rusher in the NFL, and is tied for fourth in the league in rushing yards with Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell.

"This league is all about the next man up," West said. "Each and every week, I just prepare myself like I'm starting. My number was called, and I'm just taking advantage of it."

West has earned praise from Browns head coach Mike Pettine for both his present play and future potential.

"I just love his mentality," Pettine said on a conference call. "He plays with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. But he's a rookie. He'll be the first one to tell you he has a lot to learn, but we think he has a chance to be a really good running back in this league."

West acknowledged an increase in competition level from his days at Towson, where last year he led all college backs with 2,509 rushing yards and 42 touchdowns in the Tigers' run to the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision title game. In three years at Towson, he tied the FCS career record with 86 total touchdowns and amassed 4,849 career rushing yards.

While at Towson, he developed friendships with Ravens running back Bernard Pierce, who he called his "big brother," and wide receiver Torrey Smith, among others. The Ravens' interest in West ahead of the draft in May was well documented.

"Terrance is a guy we really liked, as you know," Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. "We had designs on him in the draft, certainly, and Cleveland jumped up there and he has not disappointed."

West said he's "past that point now," and is approaching the game as he would any other.

He's expected to develop into a "total back — a guy that you can play on all downs," Pettine said.

"He has that rare blend of size and speed and short-area quickness, where he can run guys over or he can make them miss," he said. "He has good hands too. … We think the sky is the limit for Terrance, but he has a long way to go to get there. There's a lot of work left to be put in, but we're very pleased with him so far."

West praised the Ravens' defense Wednesday, and Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs afforded him the same respect.

"He's an explosive kid," Suggs said. "If he's given the opportunity, he can pop one and change the game, wreck the game for you, make it a long game for you. So we have to do our job and make sure he doesn't get off on his hometown team."

jmeoli@baltsun.com

twitter.com/JonMeoli

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