View Full Version : Bouchette on the Steelers

09-16-2006, 11:06 PM
Bouchette on the Steelers: A weekly look inside the team, the issues, the questions
Najeh Davenport signing a textbook case of knowing your NFL rules
Sunday, September 17, 2006

Najeh Davenport: From there to here

Winning the Super Bowl sent Jerome Bettis into retirement in style and probably helped the Steelers land his replacement, Najeh Davenport.

Here's the deal: By NFL rule, any four-year veteran player on a team's roster for the first regular-season game must be paid his full season's salary no matter what, even if he's cut after one game.

The Packers released the veteran running back on their final cut Sept. 2. Teams that wanted to sign him before their opening games a week ago would have been required to pay him a full season's salary if he were on the roster for the opener. However, two teams had an advantage -- the Steelers and Dolphins and both went after him.

Their first game was played Sept. 7, three days before most everyone else. That meant either team could sign Davenport on Friday and not be required to pay him a full season's salary if, say, it wanted to release him a few weeks later.

Davenport said he signed with the Steelers because, having grown up in Miami and played college football in Miami, there were "too many distractions for me."

Davenport is a lot like Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala, a former Steelers backup running back from 1998-2002. They're both big, tough and they are often injured. By Bill Cowher's own words, it appears Davenport has passed Duce Staley and moved into the role that Jerome Bettis held last season.

The question is, why did the Steelers not see this coming in the spring and prepare for it? They failed to do anything in the draft other than use their final pick on a back. They talked about a trade for T.J. Duckett during the draft, but were unwilling to meet Atlanta's price. They made no attempts in free agency, and pursued no other trades. All the while, Staley was here, practicing with them in minicamp and voluntary workouts, plenty of time for them to evaluate him.

If Davenport works out, it won't happen because they were shrewd about it. Patient, maybe; lucky, more so. And winning the Super Bowl will have paid yet another dividend for them.

A little honesty doesn't hurt

Did Bill Cowher give the Jacksonville Jaguars a break when he released his injury report Tuesday with Ben Roethlisberger listed as questionable?

Cowher always announced his team's injuries at his noon Tuesday news conference, even though he's not required to do so until Wednesday at 4 p.m. Most teams put their game plans together Tuesday. So, when Cowher listed Ben Roethlisberger as "questionable" and said he would practice Wednesday, the Jaguars coaching staff probably took that as a sign that Roethlisberger would start against them and they could plan accordingly.

Is that giving the opposition a break? Maybe, but Cowher is one of the more consistent -- and honest -- coaches when it comes to his injury report. He even upgrades players as the week goes on, as he did with Jerame Tuman and Troy Polamalu Thursday. In the meantime, more teams are following the Bill Belichick method and throwing everyone on their injury report and listing them as "questionable," which means they have a 50 percent chance of playing. That way, they can't get into hot water with the league if they do play or they don't.

Jacksonville, for example, lists five players on its injury report this week, all as questionable. Last week, the Colts listed 26 players on their injury report, nearly half the roster before their opening game; 13 were questionable.

Maybe there's an advantage to being shady with an injury report, but Cowher has a 142-82-1 regular-season record and now a Super Bowl ring doing it, for the most part, the right way.

Just stay, baby, was the wise choice

Notice that the Oakland Raiders lost their opener, 27-0, to visiting San Diego. Anyone still wondering why Ken Whisenhunt turned down the Raiders' head coaching job?

He did not do so because he thought Bill Cowher might retire after this season. He did it because the job in Oakland stinks, a burial ground for coaches and Whisenhunt is too young to be buried.

Those extra couple days of rest really helped, huh, Mike?

The Denver Broncos successfully lobbied the NFL not to schedule them against the Steelers in the kickoff to the season Sept. 7. Coach Mike Shanahan explained that he thought his team would be at a disadvantage because it had to play on the road Thursday night in Phoenix which is, what, a 90-minute flight from Denver?

The NFL caved and sent Miami to Heinz Field. The Broncos got their wish and had three more days to prepare for their game at St. Louis.

Denver lost, 18-10, to the Rams. Imagine what the Broncos might have done had they not had all that extra time.

Of such moves are trips to Canton made

That was a nice touch by the Steelers to have L.C. Greenwood join three of their Hall of Famers when they unfurled their four previous Super Bowl banners Sept. 7 to go with their new one.

Greenwood has been a finalist for the Hall of Fame too many times through the years and now he must go through the process as a Seniors candidate. Lynn Swann helped boost John Stallworth's candidacy when he graciously asked his old rival to present him at Canton, Ohio, and then spoke about him. Stallworth was elected the following year.

The little boost before the national audience could not hurt Greenwood, although he'll have to wait until at least 2008 because he was not chosen as one of two Senior candidates for 2007.


09-17-2006, 07:23 AM
Nice read. Hopefully Davenport is the missing piece we need in our running game.

09-17-2006, 08:19 AM
Thanks for the read, 83. I always enjoy reading Bouchette's takes. :smile:

I am looking forward to seeing what Davenport can do - hopefully we'll get a taste tomorrow night in Jax. :bouncy:

09-17-2006, 08:40 AM
I am pretty anxious to see Davenport in the Black and Gold...at the LEAST it is going to make the other teams rethink their defensive alignment.
How many times have we seen teams bring an extra man into the box in anticipation of a Bettis run...and making it easier for our QB to pass.
I love the potential versatility it brings back to the offense

09-17-2006, 10:09 AM
Thanks for the read, 83. I always enjoy reading Bouchette's takes. :smile:

I am looking forward to seeing what Davenport can do - hopefully we'll get a taste tomorrow night in Jax. :bouncy:

Same here it is like you are getting some inside information.

09-17-2006, 11:15 AM
very nice read, najeh needs to be a 28yr old duce, getting 4 ypc and for about 400 yards or so.

09-17-2006, 11:24 AM
Hopefully we will give him some opportunitues to be able to grind it out....