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HEAD SOUTH, YOUNG MAN: Terrance West Could Be Saving Grace for Saints During Ingram Suspension

Every so often in the National Football League, there are times that it can be mutually beneficial to both a team with a "need"for a player at a certain position, and an available talented free agent who in the past has proven that he can successfully play it; to reach an agreement if the situation is right. If his performance of the past several years is any indication, the New Orleans Saints may have been very fortunate recently, when they were able to sign such a player in 5th year veteran running back Terrance West.

With the Saints set to face the impending 4-game suspension to starting RB Mark Ingram, West is "heading South" to New Orleans, to help the team with filling in for Ingram in both the power running game and as a receiver out of the backfield — tasks that he excelled at as a superstar FCS-level college RB at Towson University, located in his hometown of Baltimore, Maryland.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

West, who worked out for the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles in early May according to the Baltimore Sun, had most recently started 17 games over parts of the past three seasons, for the Baltimore Ravens.

But last season in 2017, West was a healthy scratch for six of the Ravens’ final seven games and didn’t get a single touch after Week #5.

He was sidelined for four of those weeks with a calf injury and then after rookie Alex Collins emerged as the team’s starting back, he became expendable.

With Collins and fellow Ravens back-up RB's Buck Allen still under contract and Kenneth Dixon returning from an injury and a suspension, West’s re-signing with the Ravens was considered unlikely.

But the former small-school superstar still "has plenty of gas left in the tank" — and impressed the Saints coaching staff enough at a private work-out at the team's Airline Drive facility, to earn a 1-year deal with the organization at last month's mandatory Mini-Camp.

Besides the Saints and the Eagles. West also had standing contract offers from the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Indianapolis Colts. He told the NFL Network that he chose the Saints, because he felt they give him the best opportunity to show other NFL teams that he can still play at a very high level.

A former 3rd round draft pick from Towson by the Cleveland Browns four years ago in the 2014 NFL Draft, the 5-foot-10, 225 pound West put together a very impressive career for the small-school football program and gave it credibility.

The Tigers football program earned nation-wide notoriety with West leading the way as he broke 3 different FCS records; which included setting the standard for single season touchdowns by a freshman, single season rushing yards, and single season rushing touchdowns.

Then as a junior in the 2013 season, he rushed for NCAA Football Championship Subdivision records of 2,509 yards and 41 touchdowns, while leading the Tigers to the FCS national title game.

Yes, you read that correctly: over 2500 rushing yards and 40 TD's in ONE SINGLE season.

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

He then rushed for 673 yards and 4 TD's as a rookie with Cleveland before he was traded to the Tennessee Titans in his 2nd year, for a conditional 7th-round draft pick before the start of the 2015 season. 

But his time in Nashville was even shorter, and he was waived by their organization the following November.

It was at that moment ironically, where his biggest success up to this point, would come.

Eventually West signed with his "hometown" NFL team, the Baltimore Ravens — where he played six games for the Ravens in 2015 and was their starting back for much of 2016, after their team decided to move on from veteran Justin Forsett.

West started 13 games and finished that 2016 season with career highs in carries (193), rushing yards (774), rushing touchdowns (five), receptions (34) and receiving yards (236), establishing his NFL career highs in all categories.

Photo courtesy of The Baltimore Sun

In his 4-year NFL career up to this point: West has 1,816 yards rushing and 11 TD's on 465 attempts, averaging 3.9 yards per carry. He also has 344 yards receiving and 2 TD's on 51 career catches

He’ll now join a crowded Saints backfield that includes Alvin KamaraJonathan Williams, Trey Edmunds, Daniel Lasco and rookie Boston Scott.

But clearly the Saints like West and his experience and notable abilities as both a runner and receiver, and feel that he "fits" their offensive scheme.

With the Saints now less than 3 weeks away from Training Camp, we'll see in the upcoming weeks ahead just how West looks within the confines of the Saints offense; especially in the up-coming Pre-Season games where he figures to get a long, hard look at being the primary ball-carrier behind Kamara, while Ingram is out.

Photo courtesy of The Baltimore Sun

If that happens, it could be mutually beneficial for both the Saints and for West while at the same time give him the opportunity to basically "audition" for other NFL teams; that could be in search of a starter later on this year, or for next year and beyond.

And.....

It could also even make West the saving grace for the Saints running game, especially if he returns back to his 2016 form — as the 27-year old former small-school superstar RB tries to help the Black and Gold avoid a potential rough start to the season.

Head South, young man — and make the most of your opportunity..........

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Saints News Network Editor / Featured Columnist and Lead Analyst Barry Hirstius is a 50-year old semi-retired journalist and former New Orleans area sports editor and columnist previously with several sites that exclusively cover the New Orleans Saints NFL football team. Additionally, he is a frequent guest on a variety of Sports Talk Radio programs that cover the Saints. Barry is also a New Orleans native that dating all the way back to his childhood in the early 1970's, attended games at the old Tulane Stadium and grew up as a long-time Saints fan; following and now covering the team for a span of over 40 plus years. And perhaps most importantly of all: he is the Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity.......

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