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Thread: Steelers' Davenport gets his money's worth

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  1. #1
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    Steelers' Davenport gets his money's worth

    By Scott Brown
    Sunday, September 30, 2007

    He leads the NFL in a key rushing statistic, has more rushing yards than reigning NFL MVP LaDainian Tomlinson and has the Steelers' longest run from scrimmage this season (39 yards).
    Twice, in fact.

    Willie Parker? Try Najeh Davenport. While Parker leads the NFL in rushing, the Steelers' No. 2 running back is first in yards per carry (7.2) among the top 50 rushers in the NFL.

    Davenport has rushed for 136 yards on just 19 carries -- Tomlinson, who led the NFL in rushing last season, has six fewer rushing yards -- and is proving to fans what the Steelers coaches have known for some time: that he is more than capable as Parker's understudy and the team's third-down back.

    Challenges to Davenport from Verron Haynes and Kevan Barlow never materialized during training camp. Not that fans at Heinz Field should get used to the leap Davenport made into the stands after a 39-yard touchdown run in the Steelers' 37-16 win over the San Francisco last Sunday.

    A Pro Bowler, after all, is entrenched at the team's feature back.
    Parker may not hear Davenport's footsteps, but they should serve as a reminder that Davenport once was part of the University of Miami's championship 4 x 100-meter relay team.

    "He thinks he can outrun me," said a smiling Parker, one of the fastest players in the NFL. "For a big guy to think that, you know he's got a lot of confidence in himself."

    Davenport showed at Miami that he has the kind of speed that is rare for someone his size.
    His time at Miami also prepared the 6-1, 247-pounder for the role he has kind of carved with the Steelers.

    Davenport played in a backfield overflowing with talent. During his collegiate career, he competed with premier backs such as Edgerrin James, Clinton Portis and Willis McGahee for playing time.
    "Our running backs coach in college used to tell us every game there's not a lot of balls," Davenport said, "so the five or six plays you do get, make the most of your opportunities."

    Playing time was so hard to come by at times that Davenport recalls running out of bounds during practice.
    The reason: The Hurricanes would rotate running backs in five-minute clips during scrimmages and staying in bounds meant the clock kept running; getting out of bounds stopped it.

    "I needed to get my snaps," said Davenport, who played fullback his senior season, blocking for Portis on a team that went undefeated and won the 2001 national championship.

    Snaps have been as hard to come by with the Steelers as they were at Miami.
    Parker doesn't leave many for Davenport, especially since coach Mike Tomlin has said he plans to "ride" the Pro Bowler until "the wheels fall off." But Davenport, who signed with the Steelers last season after spending four years with the Green Bay Packers, is no bargain for defenses, especially when he comes in late in games.
    I think that's awesome--we've got the number one in BOTH stats playin on OUR side

  2. #2
    Waterboy WestCoastSteeler's Avatar
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    Having both size AND speed, maybe Davenport with be "The Train"....Lol

  3. #3
    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    Najeh is getting more comfortable every week. He's running harder, holding onto the ball, is a very good back to use the screen with and so far has been a very good compliment to Willie.

  4. #4
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    Always did like Najeh.

    I'm A "Champion"

  5. #5
    Veteran Dee Mca's Avatar
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    That 7.2 avg is with runs inside the tackles as well or on passing downs. Just a monster. Just wait till other teams start saying its mop up time and not actually plays that count.

  6. #6
    2nd String
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    i think it's an good mix once the defense get's winded from chasing willie all day then here's comes najeh, he has size an speed this one 2 punch is taking us 2 the superbowl

  7. #7
    AZ_Steeler's Avatar
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    Aug 2006
    It is a nice mix but it sucks when your offensive line can't do anything to set them loose! Najeh might have been a good change of pace on Sunday but I guess we'll never know now

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