The New Orleans Saints are hosting running backs Jamaal Charles and Terrance West for visits this Wednesday, according to multiple sources. The Saints, who will be without starter Mark Ingram for the season's first four games due to a league suspension, are likely looking for potential veteran insurance behind last year's offensive rookie of the year Alvin Kamara.
The 31-yr. old Charles has been in the league ten years, originally a 3rd round draft choice by the Kansas City Chiefs out of Texas. He 7,556 yards rushing in his career, five seasons of over 1,000 yards rushing, 4 Pro Bowl selections, and two years of All-Pro recognition in his nine seasons with the Chiefs, which included three seasons of over 1,200 yards on the ground. At his best, Charles was a speedy breakaway threat capable of taking the ball to the end zone from anywhere on the field. He has averaged 5.4 yards per carry and has 44 career rushing touchdowns, including a league high 12 rushing scores in 2012. He is also a capable receiver out of the backfield, catching 308 career passes for 2,586 yards and 20 receiving scores.
Charles was a focal point of the Kansas City offense from 2009-'14, although he did miss all but 2 games of the 2011 season with injury. During those five healthy years, Charles averaged nearly 1,300 yards on the ground, 46 receptions and almost 400 yards per season as a receiver, and 55 total offensive touchdowns. Multiple major knee injuries led to Charles missing nearly all of the 2011, 2015, and 2016 seasons, robbing him of some of his breathtaking explosiveness, and leading to his release from Kansas City following the '16 season. He was picked up by the Denver Broncos, where he played 14 games last year, but rushed for just 296 yards with one touchdown and added only 129 more receiving.
West is a 27-yr. old veteran who came into the league as a 3rd round draft pick by the Cleveland Browns in 2014. After some success as a rookie (673 yards rushing, 4 touchdowns), he played his way from the Tennessee Titans practice squad and onto the Baltimore Ravens roster in 2015, where he stayed until the conclusion of last year. West led the Ravens in rushing in 2016, with 774 yards and 5 touchdowns, while adding 45 receptions and another score. West struggled with a calf injury, among other ailments, that limited his effectiveness last season, allowing him action in just five games.
Make no mistake, the success of the Saints backfield certainly rests on the talents of Kamara, and Ingram upon his return. Ingram's suspension does leave the team with little proven depth at running back, however. Jonathan Williams and Trey Edmunds will both be entering their second active professional seasons, but have a combined 20 NFL carries between them. Boston Scott, an exciting 6th round pick this spring from Louisiana Tech, has yet to see NFL action. The Saints interest in Charles, West, or Tim Hightower, who was at New Orleans mini-camp on Tuesday, would primarily be as trusted depth behind Kamara until Ingram's return.