Strongest RB competition for Terrance West might not be on Ravens yet

Can Ravens learn to run the ball in 2017? (1:37)

NFL Live analyzes Baltimore's backfield and whether they can help lessen the pressure on Joe Flacco to throw to his offensive weapons. (1:37)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Terrance West reports to training camp Wednesday as the unquestioned lead back for the Baltimore Ravens, especially after Kenneth Dixon's uncertain timetable following knee surgery.

Will that still be the case for West entering the regular season?

One of the Ravens' top priorities for this season is to improve the NFL's fifth-worst rushing attack (91.4 yards per game), and Baltimore could upgrade the running back position even after the expected signing of Bobby Rainey.

West's biggest competition for carries and perhaps the No. 1 job might not be on the Ravens yet. That player might currently be in the NFC East.

Notable backs such as Washington's Matt Jones, Philadelphia's Ryan Mathews and Dallas' Alfred Morris are all reportedly on the outs after having productive recent seasons.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh acknowledged last October that he personally liked Jones a lot in the draft two years ago and predicted he would be a good player. Jones opened last season as the Redskins' starter but didn't get a carry after Week 7. He has asked for his release from Washington.

Mathews is expected to be cut by Philadelphia after he recovers from offseason neck surgery (so the Eagles don't have to pay an injury settlement). He's a career 4.4 yards-per-carry runner and he's scored 23 touchdowns in the past four seasons. But the Eagles signed LeGarrette Blount and drafted Donnel Pumphrey, which makes Mathews expendable.

Like Mathews, Morris is another former 1,000-yard rusher who could become a free agent. He is considered to be on the roster bubble in Dallas if Ezekiel Elliott avoids punishment from the NFL. The Ravens described Morris as someone who "ran angry" while with the Redskins.

The Ravens can also monitor the crowded backfields in Denver, New England and New Orleans as well as consider possible trades. The 49ers could be looking to move Carlos Hyde, who was originally drafted by Jim Harbaugh in San Francisco and played under assistant Greg Roman (who is now with the Ravens).

Baltimore obviously is not satisfied with its backfield. The Ravens were looking to sign Rainey before Davis' surgery.

West has never averaged more than four yards per carry in any of his four seasons and he's never carried the ball more than 193 times in a season.

Beyond West, the Ravens have Danny Woodhead, who is primarily a pass-catcher out of the backfield; Buck Allen, who was a healthy scratch for the final four games last season; Taquan Mizzell, an undrafted rookie; and Lorenzo Taliaferro, who was moved to fullback.

The Ravens want to get back to running the ball after throwing it more than any team in the league last season. When Baltimore went to the playoffs in Harbaugh's first five seasons, the Ravens ranked No. 5 in the NFL with an average of 128.8 yards rushing. During the last four seasons (which has included three non-playoff years), Baltimore has ranked No. 27 with 98.3 rushing yards per game.

That is why finding the right combination in the backfield is so critical to the Ravens' success in 2017.