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Old 09-12-2006, 08:27 AM   #1
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Default Davenport hoping to play sizable role

Davenport hoping to play sizable role
Tuesday, September 12, 2006

By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Najeh Davenport, as halfbacks go, is as big as a bus, and that is a role the Steelers would like him to fill.

They won't ask him to run for 10,571 yards over the next decade, or have his own television show and become one of the most popular players in team history. They would settle for some production at the goal line and some relief carries in the second half for starter Willie Parker.

They also would not mind if his last game is played in his hometown, just the way it was for Jerome Bettis in February. Davenport grew up in South Florida, home of Super Bowl XLI.

"I think they brought me in to exemplify some of the things they've been missing that the Bus brought," said Davenport, who is 6 feet 1 and weighs 247 pounds before lunch.

The Steelers thought they had that in Duce Staley, one reason they made no moves to fill the spot of the retired Bettis. But when the coaches saw Staley in training camp display little of the leg pop he had two years ago, a mini-panic set in.

The Steelers traded for undrafted rookie halfback Patrick Cobbs Sept. 1 from New England, then cut him a week later, which means they owe nothing to the Patriots because of the conditions of the deal.

The Steelers on Friday signed Davenport, who came to town Thursday, after his agent also fielded calls from the Dolphins and Cowboys. A big, hard-running back, Green Bay released him last week, believing his history of injuries would continue because of his upright style of running that makes for an easy target. Coincidentally, the Packers kept on their roster halfback Noah Herron, who was drafted by the Steelers last year and put on their practice squad.

"I'm ecstatic about the opportunity to come to a great facility, a great organization," Davenport said. "You have a big back like I am. They've been known for their big backs the last five, 10 years."

And more. The Steelers ran more often than any other team each of the past two seasons.

"I have the jitters, man," Davenport said. "This is what I do."

Davenport could dress for the Steelers' game Monday night in Jacksonville.

"That's the plan," he said. "I came and met with them this morning and probably will meet tomorrow and go from there. I have a quick grasp of stuff."

He also has a long history of injuries. He played 39 games in four years for Green Bay with 1,068 yards rushing and a healthy 4.9-yard average per carry. His right ankle was broken in the fifth game last season and required surgery, ending the year for him. It happened in the second quarter against New Orleans after Davenport already had rushed 12 times for 54 yards and two touchdowns.

Bouts with hamstring and shoulder injuries kept him out of five games in 2004, his best season with 359 yards rushing, including 178 yards against the Rams. He also had surgery on his right knee and broke his right foot.

"I run hard and I play hard. You're going to get hurt," said Davenport, a fourth-round pick in 2002 from Miami, where he was captain of the '01 national champions. "You can't say a guy's injury prone because he gets a nick here or a nick there. I run hard. This is a contact sport, a violent contact sport and ... you're going to get nicks and bruises. Unfortunately I got a couple of them."

He also gained a bit of infamy when he allegedly defecated in the closet of a Barry University woman's dorm room on April 1, 2002, in Miami. Charges of burglary and criminal mischief were dropped in exchange for community service. Davenport yesterday maintained his innocence and said he wished he would have gone to court to prove it.

The Steelers, who signed Davenport, 27, to a one-year contract, aren't looking for him to stay healthy for the next five years. They need someone to take some carries off Parker, who lugged the ball a career-high 29 times in Thursday's season opener against Miami.

Davenport knows the role. He was never the feature back in Green Bay; that went to Ahman Green. He was the change of pace, something he hopes he can provide the Steelers.

"Right now I'm a role player," Davenport said. "Whatever they want me to do -- fullback, running back, special teams. I'm just happy, ecstatic to be on the field."

NOTE -- Running back Patrick Cobbs, waived by the Steelers Friday, cleared waivers yesterday but turned down a chance to sign with their practice squad and is expected to sign with another team's practice squad. ... Steelers players, given the past three days off, return to work today. They will attend meetings but will not practice until tomorrow.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06255/721107-66.stm
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Old 09-12-2006, 11:10 AM   #2
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Default Re: Davenport hoping to play sizable role

I think Davenport will do well for us. As long as we keep him out of any closets

As far as being injury prone, I don't see it. If missing 5 games in 2004 and a broken ankle last year means the guy's jinxed, then we'd best not look too close at Ben (or half the other guys in the NFL either). They play hard. They get hurt. S*** happens
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Old 09-12-2006, 11:23 AM   #3
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Default Re: Davenport hoping to play sizable role

Like someone already said the injuries do not appear to be of chronic nature. He will be fine. I believe this was a hugh pick up on our part and should work out for us very well.
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Old 09-12-2006, 11:23 AM   #4
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Default Re: Davenport hoping to play sizable role

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As far as being injury prone, I don't see it. If missing 5 games in 2004 and a broken ankle last year means the guy's jinxed, then we'd best not look too close at Ben (or half the other guys in the NFL either). They play hard. They get hurt. S*** happens
Um, he also missed the final 8 games of the 2002 season with an eye injury. Out of 64 possible regular season games, he has missed 25 of them due to injury, which is more than a third of the games. I'd say that makes him injury-prone in my book.
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Old 09-12-2006, 11:27 AM   #5
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Default Re: Davenport hoping to play sizable role

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Originally Posted by SteelersFire View Post
I think Davenport will do well for us. As long as we keep him out of any closets

As far as being injury prone, I don't see it. If missing 5 games in 2004 and a broken ankle last year means the guy's jinxed, then we'd best not look too close at Ben (or half the other guys in the NFL either). They play hard. They get hurt. S*** happens
I didn't say he was jinxed...(lol) However, I do feel that missing 16 games out of 32 is something to keep an eye on. We already have one injury prone RB in Duce. I have no doubt he will be fine here filling in behind Willie and possibly being the 3rd down back. I'm ecstatic about his signing and I have made no secret about that here.
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Old 09-12-2006, 11:28 AM   #6
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Default Re: Davenport hoping to play sizable role

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Um, he also missed the final 8 games of the 2002 season with an eye injury. Out of 80 possible games, he has missed 25 of them due to injury, a little less than a third of the games. I'd say that makes him injury-prone in my book.
I wouldn't put the title of "injury prone" on him just because of that eye injury. That was pretty much a freak accident. How many times in the league have you heard of guys having repeating eye injuries? That could have happened to anybody.
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Old 09-12-2006, 11:31 AM   #7
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Default Re: Davenport hoping to play sizable role

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I wouldn't put the title of "injury prone" on him just because of that eye injury. That was pretty much a freak accident. How many times in the league have you heard of guys having repeating eye injuries? That could have happened to anybody.
I don't believe XT is talking about just the eye injury. SFInCA. He's going into his 4th season in the NFL and he's missed games in each of the prior 3 seasons due to injury. Hopefully his bad luck will turn to good being in the black and gold.
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Old 09-12-2006, 11:34 AM   #8
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Default Re: Davenport hoping to play sizable role

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I don't believe XT is talking about just the eye injury. SFInCA. He's going into his 4th season in the NFL and he's missed games in each of the prior 3 seasons due to injury. Hopefully his bad luck will turn to good being in the black and gold.
Exactly. When you miss more than a third of your team's games due to injury, IMO it should raise questions of your durability. I still like the signing and believe he gives the Steelers the dimension they didn't have going into the season, but his injury history can't be overlooked.
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Old 09-12-2006, 11:36 AM   #9
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Default Re: Davenport hoping to play sizable role

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Originally Posted by HometownGal View Post
I don't believe XT is talking about just the eye injury. SFInCA. He's going into his 4th season in the NFL and he's missed games in each of the prior 3 seasons due to injury. Hopefully his bad luck will turn to good being in the black and gold.
Yeah, I see where XT is coming from but I still think we shouldn't worry about the injuries too much. I guess I'm just trying to be optimistic and give this guy a fresh chance.
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Old 09-12-2006, 11:39 AM   #10
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Default Re: Davenport hoping to play sizable role

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Exactly. When you miss nearly a third of your team's games due to injury, IMO it should raise questions of your durability. I still like the signing and believe he gives the Steelers the dimension they didn't have going into the season, but his injury history can't be overlooked.
Hopefully it's a thing of the past. Based on what he is saying, it sounds like he plays balls out. He understands the physical nature of the game. One thing he has going for him now is that he gets to run behind our "O" Line now. Here's to hoping he stays healthy.
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