Saturday, October 21, 2006
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
After four seasons with the Green Bay Packers, Najeh Davenport is relieved to have a change of scenery. After four years of rules, fines and what he said was an emphasis on upholding a storied image, he is glad to be with a team that can laugh, joke and win. Not to mention not worry about his weight.
Davenport said it is one of the reasons he feels refreshed and invigorated with the Steelers, who signed him last month as a backup running back. And one of the reasons he already has made several big plays for his new team, despite limited appearances.
"This is a different atmosphere," Davenport said. "Green Bay, you really had to treat it like a job, like a job-job, like working at Taco Bell, not like a career job. Here, I don't see that. I don't get that feeling. You're here to play football and you're doing something that you love."
Davenport has been an instant contributor with the Steelers. The first time he touched the ball with his new team, he took a screen pass 32 yards against the San Diego Chargers, stiff-arming strong safety Terrence Kiel along the way, to set up a touchdown.
The first time he touched the ball against the Kansas City Chiefs, Davenport ran 48 yards to the Chiefs' 17 to set up another touchdown, though he was caught from behind by defensive end Jared Allen. He later had an 18-yard run and also scored a 1-yard touchdown on fourth down -- providing hope that, at 255 pounds, he can be the player to replace Jerome Bettis as the short-yardage back.