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Browns have a battle at RB

June 13, 2014
By MIKE McLAIN - Tribune Chronicle ( , Tribune Chronicle

CLEVELAND - Ben Tate might want to be more careful about the words he uses in the future.

The Browns running back confidently says he's the best player in the meeting room, but there's a high-stepping rookie who might run by him and straight into the starting lineup.

Terrance West is more than just a likable rookie with an infectious personality. He also happens to be an outstanding prospect who could turn into a third-round steal.

Tate, the five-year veteran who's feeling cocky now that he's escaped the shadow of Arian Foster in Houston, will undoubtedly be first on coach Mike Pettine's initial depth chart in training camp, but West is determined to show that he should get the bulk of carries in coordinator Kyle Shanahan's zone-blocking running game.

"Our job is to come out here and compete and push us forward to bring the best out of each other," West said Thursday after the Browns completed their final practice of the offseason. "That's what I'm here to do. I'm here to play. I want to be the starter and I'm going to practice like a starter."

West says Tate has been a tutor in the short time they've been teammates, but that doesn't mean Tate is going to make it easy on West in camp. There's an edge to Tate that can be a good thing if channeled in the right direction.

"I know when I'm on my game no disrespect to any other running back here -there's no running back that can really touch me as to what I do," Tate said. "Honestly, I'm not worried about that. I battled every day with what some people consider the best running back in the league Arian Foster. This around here to me is not anything."

Most players would take those as fighting words. Perhaps knowing his place as a rookie from Towson University, West avoided taking the bait when asked if he feels disrespected.

"Everybody had to be a rookie before they became a vet," West said. "I'm learning the playbook fast and I'm feeling very good about it."

There's a bit of showboat in West's running style. You'll notice it when he breaks through the initial line of defense. That's when he begins a high-stepping routine he uses as a setup to put a move on a second- or third-level defender.

"That's my signature move," said West. "My body just takes over and does it. I don't even think about it. That's something I've been doing for a long time."

The high-stepping would seem to be a move that wouldn't fly with most coaches. It not only has a showboat look, but it also takes the runner off his stride.

"They don't have a problem with it," West said. "As long as I make a person miss, they don't care. As long as I take care of my one-on-one."

West high-stepped his way into college football's FCS record book. Last season he rushed for a record 2,505 yards and scored a record 41 touchdowns.

West didn't do it with blinding speed, but like most talented skilled players on offense he's fast when the pads are on.

"I'm not the fastest guy, and I'm not the slowest guy," West said. "I have some good speed. Once I get past you; once I make a person miss, it's going to be hard to catch me. Football is all about angles, and I feel I've been very good at taking angles."

West's best move would be slipping ahead of Tate on the depth chart.



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