BEREA, Ohio -- The running back position was one of weakness for the Cleveland Browns during the 2013 regular season following the trade of Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts in the third week of the year in exchange for a first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
But with the offseason additions of Ben Tate and Isaiah Crowell in free agency and the drafting of Terrance West, along with the return of Dion Lewis, who broke his leg in the preseason last year, competition is abound in the backfield, something position coach Wilbert Montgomery is not used to having.
"This is the first time that I've had talent this good as a running back coach," Montgomery said. "Like I said, when I was in Baltimore, I had multiple Pro Bowl backs, but now, I'm here. The starters were Pro Bowl backs, and the same in St. Louis. Steven Jackson and Marshall Faulk were the same way.
"Here is a little bit different. Everyone here is fighting to be a Pro Bowl back, fighting to be a starter, so it has breathed great competition. You look around, I can call on anyone of those guys, and they are going to do something special out there on the field. They all (have) a skill set that can make plays."
In West and Crowell, Montgomery has two running backs who played predominantly at the small-school level, although the latter spent one season at Georgia before off-the-field issues spoiled his career with the Bulldogs.
"The game is different," Montgomery said. "The guys are bigger, faster and stronger. There's more prep work than it was in college because you're here all day versus in college, when you're not there. Now, the other part, the physical part out on the field, it's starting to kick in.
"I don't really care about those issues that (Crowell) had off of the field because I don't even know about those issues. All I know is that he's a human being. He's one of the Browns running backs right now. My thing is to get him ready to play and to give us the best look. I don't think there's one person in that room that asked him why he didn't get drafted or what his issues are. It's about right now. It's a fresh start for him."
By drafting West, the Browns selected a running back who went from walking on at Towson University to setting a Football Championship Subdivision record for points scored, 516, and touchdowns per game, 2.27, and most rushing touchdowns in a single season, 41, last fall.
West's 84 rushing touchdowns are tied for the most in FCS history, while his 4,849 rushing yards in just three years are third-most.
"It's funny because Terrence West has some shades of (former NFL running back) Brian Westbrook," Montgomery said. "He can break you down with his right leg. He can break you down with his left.
"He has that Ricky Watters or Walter Payton 'lure-you-to-sleep-on-the-sidelines' move that I can accelerate or I can play like I'm going to accelerate and cut back inside. Those are some of the traits that I haven't seen in a while."