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Old 11-17-2006, 03:53 AM   #1
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Default Davenport fills role nicely for Steelers

Najeh Davenport didn't welcome a change of scenery as much as he did a change of culture.
That may seem odd, considering the running back went from one franchise with a storied history and fanatical fans -- Green Bay -- to another when he signed with the Steelers.

But after coach Bill Cowher told the fifth-year pro to simply play, the 247-pound Davenport felt considerably lighter. And if starting running back Willie Parker is on his way to a big year, Davenport is on his way to a somewhat redeeming one.

Claimed off waivers at the beginning of the season, Davenport has carved out a role with the Steelers.

He has taken over the third-down duties that were left vacant when Verron Haynes suffered a season-ending knee injury. He also is returning kickoffs.

Davenport looks miscast as a returner, given his size. However, he was a member of the University of Miami 400-meter relay team, and he had enough speed to return a kickoff 40 yards in last Sunday's 38-31 win over the New Orleans Saints.

Davenport is averaging 23.3 yards per kick return and has a combined 191 rushing and receiving yards.

"He's been a great addition to this team," said Cowher, whose team visits Cleveland on Sunday for a 1 p.m. game. "We will try to continue to give him some touches."

Davenport seemed to do well with the limited touches he received in Green Bay, averaging 5 yards on 87 carries his past three seasons with the Packers.

But injuries frequently sidetracked Davenport, and the Packers cut him at the end of training camp.

Getting released, Davenport said, may have been the best thing that could have happened to him.

"Here, they let you go out and play," said Davenport, who played for the Packers from 2002-05. "(In Green Bay), they put a little more stress on you to make detailed decisions on every aspect of the game.

"I don't want to say robot, but you become more standardized, like, 'Run here exactly like this.' They take the creativity out of it, so you really can't do what got you to this level."

Davenport added that, in Green Bay, he frequently played in fear of making a mistake. That's why, he said, one of his first conversations with Cowher turned out to be so refreshing.

"It was something new to me," Davenport said, "hearing the head coach say, 'Just play. You're going to make mistakes.' "

Playing time hasn't been easy to come by, with Parker getting most of the carries and making the most of them (his 847 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns rank third in the AFC).

But Davenport's versatility has made him valuable to the Steelers, and he gives Cowher insurance should Parker go down with an injury.

"I like the way he plays the game," Cowher said. "He's a tough guy and a physical player. He'll do whatever you ask him to do, whether it's to cover a kick, return a kick, play third down, block or carry the football."
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Old 11-17-2006, 07:42 AM   #2
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Default Re: Davenport fills role nicely for Steelers

MaNajeh!!!!!!! Git 'Er Done!!!!
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Old 11-17-2006, 08:16 AM   #3
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Default Re: Davenport fills role nicely for Steelers

I really like Najeh back to return kicks. Kick returners need speed, but they mostly need vision and they always need to break a couple tackles. Najeh has just that, look for him to break a few bigs ones. And he does do well on screen passes too.
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Old 11-17-2006, 08:29 AM   #4
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Default Re: Davenport fills role nicely for Steelers

Oddly enough, he seems to go down quicker than FWP after a hit most of the time. There are a few carries where he has plowed some people, but I have been sometimes unpleasantly surprised when he gets hit and goes down quick. Hopefully that will improve with playing time.
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Old 11-17-2006, 08:58 AM   #5
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Default Re: Davenport fills role nicely for Steelers

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Oddly enough, he seems to go down quicker than FWP after a hit most of the time. There are a few carries where he has plowed some people, but I have been sometimes unpleasantly surprised when he gets hit and goes down quick. Hopefully that will improve with playing time.
on the flipside there have been times willie, verron, and santonio havent gone down quick enough and they have turnovers that have cost us the game.

thats one thing i like about najeh returning kicks. he may get tackled and not break off a td run but it doesnt seem like he is gonna get stripped of the ball. that is huge at this point.
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Old 11-17-2006, 09:01 AM   #6
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Default Re: Davenport fills role nicely for Steelers

Recently a thread asked if we should resign Najeh. I say hell yes, this guy has been an excellent player in all aspects and a true role model with his patience to play and his versitility. After all the questions early on I actually like our running back situation right now. I would like to see them draft a fullback at some point in next years draft. Keep going Najeh, stay healthy you are a very valuable player right now.
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Old 11-17-2006, 09:05 AM   #7
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Default Re: Davenport fills role nicely for Steelers

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Originally Posted by jbattenhouse View Post
Oddly enough, he seems to go down quicker than FWP after a hit most of the time. There are a few carries where he has plowed some people, but I have been sometimes unpleasantly surprised when he gets hit and goes down quick. Hopefully that will improve with playing time.
Willie Parker is decieving. He's real fast, but he runs in such a way that when people hit him, he doesn't absorb the force. He gives it right back.



Alot of tacklers bounce off of him for this reason.


Najeh is a "big" back so when he tries to run defenders over, he absorbs the force and might go down. Najeh will run over people that are smaller than him most of the time, but FWP will be able to run through anyone because of his relaxed and speedy running style.





Remember, Willie Parker isn't small, he's over 210 pounds of solid muscle.

Last edited by Infamix; 11-17-2006 at 09:18 AM.
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Old 11-17-2006, 09:07 AM   #8
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Default Re: Davenport fills role nicely for Steelers

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Originally Posted by tony hipchest View Post
on the flipside there have been times willie, verron, and santonio havent gone down quick enough and they have turnovers that have cost us the game.

thats one thing i like about najeh returning kicks. he may get tackled and not break off a td run but it doesnt seem like he is gonna get stripped of the ball. that is huge at this point.
Part of maturing as a skill position player in the NFL is knowing when to go down. Guys like Holmes are still in semi-college mode. In college, guys like Holmes and Parker could do crazy things and get away with it because they were a notch above 8 or 9 of the 11 defenders on the field. In the NFL, you're not better than 8 or 9 defenders, you're luck to be better than 1 or 2.

Holmes and Parker will learn when to go down and when to fight, but that's part of being a young team.
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Old 11-17-2006, 11:40 AM   #9
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Default Re: Davenport fills role nicely for Steelers

najeh davenport a.k.a. the EXCURSION is a nice fit for the team, i think he will see more playing time with VH out. he runs screens real well and handles kickoff returns nicely.
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Old 11-17-2006, 01:32 PM   #10
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Default Re: Davenport fills role nicely for Steelers

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I've been impressed with the guy. Seems like he's made at least one key play for us in almost every game when he's had the chance. I'd take him any day over T.J. Duckett, who everyone seemed to think we should sign in the offseason.

I agree, I didn't like the idea of Duckett.
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