For the first time in his four-year NFL career, Terrance West is the undisputed starter at running back. And the former Northwestern High and Towson University standout is champing at the bit to prove that he has earned that spot in the Ravens’ regular-season opener Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.
“I appreciate the opportunity and will try to take advantage of the opportunity,” West said before Wednesday afternoon’s practice. “I’m just going to go out there and have fun and hopefully I can contribute to wins.”
West opened last season backing up Justin Forsett before yielding reps to then-rookie Kenneth Dixon. Since then, Dixon has been placed on injured reserve after a meniscus tear in his left knee, Danny Woodhead has missed a portion of training camp because of a hamstring ailment, and undrafted rookie Taquan Mizzell — who led the offense in the preseason in rushing and receiving — has been claimed off waivers by the Chicago Bears.
Perhaps because West and Buck Allen are the only running backs who did not miss time in camp, the team signed Jeremy Langford, formerly of the Bears, and Alex Collins formerly of the Seattle Seahawks, to the practice squad Tuesday.
Langford, a fourth-round pick out of Michigan State in 2015, rushed for 537 yards and six touchdowns and caught 22 passes for 279 yards and a score as a backup to Matt Forte in 2015, but was cut Sunday when Chicago claimed Mizzell. Collins, a fifth-round pick out of Arkansas in 2015, played in 11 games last year for Seattle, rushing for 125 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries and catching 11 passes for 84 yards.
Langford said his priority is making the transition from the Bears to the Ravens.
“I think first things first for me is I have to know how this offense works and get into the playbook,” he said. “I think the faster I get into the playbook, the better it is for me. So right now, I’m just focused on learning the playbook because it’s a whole different animal coming here.”
West was comfortable with the additions of Langford and Collins, saying, “That helps us a lot. They’re good running backs.”
Whoever the featured running back is, right guard Marshal Yanda predicted that he would enjoy a greater workload this season.
“The word I think of is ‘commitment,’ ” he said. “I think we’re going to be committed to it more this year than we ever have. We understand, too, that we’re going to have to pass the ball, too.”
New No. 42: In a practical sense, Patrick Ricard’s decision to leave behind the No. 91 jersey he wore for the Ravens in the preseason for No. 42 makes life easier for the rookie because he does not have to report to officials when entering games as a fullback.
Selecting No. 42 also was a sentimental choice for the undrafted defensive lineman, who wore Nos. 55, 44 and 5 while at the University of Maine.
“I had a couple options with the 40 numbers, and I picked 42 because I wore it in high school,” the 6-foot-3, 304-pound Ricard said, referring to his prep days at David Prouty in Spencer, Mass. “So that was a good omen. I played fullback in high school, too. So it’s back to my roots, and it’s a number I’m familiar with. I’m happy with it.”
Along with inside linebacker Bam Bradley and cornerback Jaylen Hill, Ricard extended the organization’s streak of at least one undrafted free agent making the 53-man active roster to 14 years. Maintaining a standard that includes Bart Scott, Jameel McClain, Justin Tucker, and Michael Pierce would seem onerous, but Ricard said he actually feels the opposite.
“I actually think it’s less pressure being undrafted,” he said. “If I was a first-round draft pick and they invested all of this money into me, you’d think that you’d have more pressure with that. It’s more about that they trust me enough to keep me. Now I feel like a guy that can play here and be on the 53-man [roster] for the whole season.”
End zone: Four offensive starters in wide receivers Jeremy Maclin (hand) and Breshad Perriman (strained right hamstring), quarterback Joe Flacco (back), and left tackle Ronnie Stanley (knee) fully participated in Wednesday’s practice. Woodhead (hamstring), who is West’s primary backup, also practiced fully. Cornerback Sheldon Price (concussion) took part on a limited basis. Rookie cornerback Hill was held out because of a hamstring injury. … The Bengals practiced without starting strong safety Shawn Williams (elbow). Rookie wide receiver John Ross will reportedly miss two weeks because of a left knee injury. Three starters in tight end Tyler Eifert (knee), running back Jeremy Hill (ankle) and free safety George Iloka (knee) participated fully. … The Ravens’ Purple Pep Rally scheduled for Wednesday at McKeldin Square was postponed because of poor weather conditions. The event has been rescheduled for Sept. 15 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. All other events scheduled for Countdown to Kickoff week on Thursday and Friday will go on as planned. For more information, go to baltimoreravens.com/ravensflock/countdown-to-kickoff. l