Entering Monday night’s win against the Cleveland Browns, one of the most exciting new aspects for Baltimore Ravens fans was product Terrance West‘s debut (Northwestern High, Towson University), which was highly anticipated.
On his third team in two years, the former standout Towson running back is on thin ice regarding his NFL hopes. But thanks to a depleted group of running backs in Baltimore, Monday was West’s first opportunity with his hometown team.
After failed stints in Cleveland and Tennessee – partially due to alleged maturity issues – Baltimore could be West’s saving grace. The Ravens desperately need help at running back, and with the city rallying behind him, it would be a feel-good story to see him redeem himself in purple and black.
If Monday night’s performance was any indication of what is to come for West during the duration of the 2015 season, the stock report is trending upward.
Failing to rotate into the offense until the second half, West made the most of his small sample size, producing 37 rushing yards on seven attempts (average of 5.3 yards per carry), including runs of 11 and 16 yards.
West was patient and comfortable behind the Baltimore offensive line, and was able to find his groove against the team that drafted him.
Let’s take a look at some of the highlight’s from West’s Ravens debut.
One of West’s strong suits as a draft prospect was his patience behind the offensive line and subsequent quick reactions and cuts once the play developed.
He displayed this trait at times with Cleveland in 2014, and flashed the ability again on Monday.
On this run play to the left, the initial reaction for some running backs would be to take the open lane between the left tackle and left guard.
Instead, West allows the line to continue moving to his left, eventually opening up an opportunity to cut back toward the middle of the field.
He remains unscathed working through the first line of defense by sticking as close to his offensive linemen as possible.
West’s quick-thinking decision offers him open field ahead, and he again remains patient as he allows his blocks to develop in front of him.
West continues to carry himself behind the blockers as he works his way downfield, and he eventually falls forward to pickup 16 yards, his biggest gain on the night.
West has excelled in the past with this type of play. The fact that he can still make reads like this effectively shows that not all is lost with the young running back. He still possesses the ability to be a one-cut-and-go runner with quality anticipation and vision.
West let this ability slip away during his first year-and-a-half in the NFL, but perhaps over time in Baltimore, he’ll return to his pre-draft roots as a runner.
Along with his notable performance on the ground came a key blitz pickup late in the game which allowed quarterback Matt Schaub to complete a pass downfield.
On the fake handoff, West squares up and takes on the blitzing defender.
West absorbs the contact, and even though he is initially pushed back, he regains his footing and gains the advantage on the defender.
As Schaub steps up in the pocket and throws, West has fended off the blitzer and created a clean pocket for his quarterback.
With Justin Forsett out for the season, the offense desperately needs another quality pass blocker at running back. Both West and Buck Allen will be relied on to deliver down the stretch and keep Schaub clean.
West’s first game in a Ravens uniform offered only a handful of opportunities, but he made the most of his chances. He is in the perfect position to prove himself as a player worth keeping around for 2016 if he can excel as the backup running back during the final five games.
This may be West’s last chance to prove himself as a viable NFL running back, and Monday night’s performance has West headed in the right direction.