Do Ravens need to add a running back after Terrance West's quiet preseason?

Terrance West hasn't done much in the preseason to inspire confidence in the Ravens' run game. Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Running back Terrance West remains atop the Baltimore Ravens' depth chart even after a quiet preseason because there is currently no real threat to his job.

But could competition come from a runner not currently on the team?

Washington's Matt Jones and the New York Jets' Matt Forte are among the running backs who might be available Saturday when teams cut down their rosters to 53 players. Other intriguing runners will likely get pushed out as well.

West entered training camp as one of the most unproven starting running backs in the NFL. He has never gained over 800 yards in a season and has a career average of 3.9 yards per carry.

The perception of West didn't change in the preseason, albeit a small sample size. He gained 38 yards on 16 carries, a woeful 2.4-yard average.

"It's preseason. You're not trying to show everything," West said. "I think we have the run game on the right road."

Improving the run game has been a major priority for Baltimore. The Ravens have produced the third-fewest rushing yards in the NFL over the past two seasons combined. Plus, with Joe Flacco nursing a back injury, Baltimore has to take pressure off him by committing more to the run this season.

With the addition of senior offensive assistant Greg Roman, Baltimore is going with a more downhill running scheme, which presumably suited West's style. West even compared himself to Frank Gore, who excelled in Roman's offense in San Francisco.

But West has struggled this preseason. He has produced six runs for no gain or negative yardage, and he has just three runs over four yards.

Some of the troubles can be traced back to an offensive line in flux. Eight players have started on the Ravens offensive line this preseason. Only center Ryan Jensen has started in the same position for all three games.

The problem with West is he's never been a consistent or disciplined runner. In his three NFL seasons, he's never averaged more than four yards per carry.

The Ravens just don't have anyone to either replace him or push him. Kenneth Dixon, a promising second-year back, underwent season-ending knee surgery at the start of camp. Buck Allen, the current backup, has averaged 2.9 yards per carry this preseason and was a healthy inactive for the last four games last season. And Danny Woodhead, who has been sidelined with a hamstring injury, is more of a target out of a backfield than a ball-carrier.

It's no wonder that Pro Football Focus rated this backfield as the second-worst in the NFL.

If the Ravens decided to add a running back, they could trade a defensive lineman (the team's deepest position) for one or just sign a back after he is released Saturday. Cost will be important because the Ravens only have a few million of cap space remaining.

Coach John Harbaugh remained optimistic last week when asked about the ground game.

"I feel great about where our running game is," Harbaugh said. "I am really excited about it, and I am looking forward to seeing how it goes this year."