It’s football season – well sort of, the Ravens’ preseason begins Thursday. While the preseason isn’t the most exciting time for fans, for many players it’s a critical time to prove they deserve a spot on the 53-man roster.
For two players with local ties, Thursday’s game is a huge opportunity to show their worth.
Watch Thursday's game on ABC2/WMAR-TV starting at 7 p.m.
Third year running back Terrance West was a standout at Towson University. He was drafted in the third-round in 2014 by the Cleveland Browns. The Browns traded up to snatch him from the Ravens, who were highly interested at the time. West stayed in Cleveland for a season and then was traded to the Tennessee Titans. After just games, he was released. The Ravens came in and grabbed him.
West says he hopes Baltimore is his last stop in the NFL.
“Throughout my career – high school, college – I’ve always had obstacles I have had to overcome,” West said in a press conference. “I was in Cleveland, I went to Tennessee, now I’m with the Baltimore Ravens. I want to make this my last stop.”
Last season, injuries to Justin Forsett and other running backs gave West a crack at the No. 2 tailback position. In six games he rushed 46 times for 180 yards, averaging 3.9 yards per carry. Though not the most impressive numbers, West showed he has potential. In the offseason, he concentrated on studying the playbook and getting his body down to weight.
He says he’s now lighter than he was in college and remains quick as ever.
“I think it’s been really good. He’s done a really good job,” Harbaugh said in a press conference. “He’s in great shape, he flashes talent, he’s very determined, is all business. I really appreciate it.”
Even with this offseason’s improvements, West still has his work cut out for him to make the final roster. Forsett is healthy. Buck Allen is looking good and the rookie fourth-round pick Kenneth Dixon is healthy again. So where does West fit in?
The answer will likely come during the four preseason games. West needs to prove he deserves one of the highly competitive running back spots or that he can be an asset to the special teams.
For many players fighting for a roster spot, versatility is key. It’s certainly crucial for former Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds. Reynolds was drafted in the sixth-round in 2016. At Navy, Reynolds shattered NCAA records, including most career rushing touchdowns with 88.
In the offseason, the Ravens have given Reynolds reps at wide receiver, returner and kickoff and punt coverage. Ravens special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said the more he can do, the more valuable he’ll be to the team and he likes what he’s seen so far.
“He’s starting from scratch, so it’s a long journey, but what we’ve seen on a daily basis is improvement. That’s what we look to maximize,” Rosburg said in a press conference.
For Reynolds, this preseason is especially important. He is very similar to third-year receiver Michael Campanaro who played a large role in the Ravens return game last season.
Although we won’t see many of the Ravens big names take the field Thursday, it’s always great to see young guys fighting to make the roster. Look for a lot of heart, hard work and hard hits. And you can bet everyone will run through every whistle.
Thursday’s game can be seen on ABC2. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. and kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.