Not long ago, Terrance West looked like he required floor-path lighting to locate running lanes.

Isaiah Crowell was buried so deep on the Browns' depth chart his chinstrap could have been attached to a miner's helmet.

One week into the regular season, however, the Browns rookie halfbacks are enjoying unexpected celebrity following a dazzling debut and increased responsibility in wake of Ben Tate's knee injury.

West and Crowell enter Sunday's home opener against the New Orleans Saints as key contributors to an offense that will be missing Tate and could be without Pro Bowl tight end Jordan Cameron. The value of the small-college, big-bodied backs rose dramatically with their performances against the Steelers' in a 30-27 opening-day setback at Heinz Field.

With Tate lost to a second-quarter injury, the halfback tandem combined for 132 yards and two touchdowns -- most coming after intermission.

"It was encouraging," Browns coach Mike Pettine said. "But they need to be able to take the next step, and this is another challenge for them, to go against this type of (Saints) defense and it's nothing that either one of those guys have seen before. It will be a good test for them."

The coach wouldn't speculate on a timetable for Tate's return. The NFL Network reported the starter could miss up to a month with a knee sprain. It's a serious concern, but one mitigated by the effective play of West and Crowell.