West earns starting reps, but Pettine vows 'rotation'


The backfield battle in Cleveland got off to a surprising start on Thursday with Terrance West taking the opening rep at Browns training camp.

First-team snaps are a surprise for the back after West appeared to tumble down the depth chart in OTAs, losing carries to second-year thumper Isaiah Crowell, rookie Duke Johnson and late-season pickup Shaun Draughn.

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It's an indication the Browns haven't given up on West, but coach Mike Pettine said Thursday that Cleveland intends to use a "healthy rotation" in camp, per The Plain Dealer, with Crowell and Johnson also seeing first-team snaps during the practice.

West was massively inconsistent as a rookie in 2014. The third-rounder slashed the Steelers for 100 yards in Week 1 and topped 90 yards in two other tilts, but he also served as a healthy scratch in Week 5 and drew criticism for his practice habits.

Crowell was the better runner by season's end, moving with urgency on the ground but also losing playing time for what Pettine called "ball security concerns." Those troubles continued Thursday, with Crowell fumbling a pair of handoffs from new Browns quarterback Josh McCown.

The X-factor here is the rookie Johnson, a pure runner out of Miami with the type of speed and open-field moves that have Cleveland's coaches comparing him to Cincy's Giovani Bernard.

It's a crowded house, but we still see Crowell as the lead runner over West, with Johnson initially ticketed for passing-down work. If Pettine taught us anything last year, though, the pecking order could change weekly, leaving fantasy owners flustered from September onward.

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