Steelers' Barlow Vs. Davenport: A RB Comparison

It may not be Luke Skywalker versus Darth Vader, but a battle is being waged for the Steelers number two running back position behind starter Willie Parker. Seven year veteran Kevan Barlow and sixth year pro Najeh Davenport are competing for the role of Parker's primary back up and the loser may find himself in the NFL unemployment come September.

Kevan Barlow has been living off his performance in the 2003 season for the last three years but has failed to reach the same level of statistical success ever again. In that year he averaged 5.1 yards per carry, scored six touchdowns and rushed for 1,024 yards while only starting four games. Barlow also caught 35 passes for 307 yards and another score and showed versatility that many thought would cement him as the 49ers starter for years to come.

But over the next two seasons as the feature back Barlow's production decreased significantly. On 420 carries in 2004 and 2005, Barlow averaged only 3.3 yards per carry after averaging 4.6 on 471 carries from 2001 to 2003 and generally looked worn down and out of sync with the rest of the Niners offense. The offensive line received most of the blame for this, but with the emergence of Frank Gore in 2005 and his success running behind the same offensive line (4.8 yards per carry vs. Barlow's 3.3) Barlow essentially punched his ticket out of town and was traded to the New York Jets prior to the start of the '06 season.