Najeh Davenport

Najeh Davenport Update

Parker's replacement at tailback is Najeh Davenport, who's looking more fit, powerful and agile than he did a year ago.

Davenport had some quality years with the Green Bay Packers before they let him go. Tomlin remembers him from his days on the defensive staff at Tampa Bay, and said this Davenport looks like that Davenport.

"He does," Tomlin said. "They just came at you in waves over there at Green Bay back at that time - Ahman Green, Najeh and (Tony) Fisher. You had to get ready for all of them. And he looks like that guy. He gutted us pretty good down in Tampa one year, about 75 yards on 14 carries. I've got a sick memory. I don't know why I remember that."

Close, coach. Davenport gained 70 yards on 13 carries in that 2003 game. He also returned a kickoff 56 yards.


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.

Davenport happy to return the favor

When Najeh Davenport signed with the Steelers last year, following the season-opener against the Miami Dolphins, fellow running back Verron Haynes stepped in and helped him out right away. He gave him tips, helped him with the playbook, and the like.
Now it's Davenport's time to return the favor. Haynes was re-signed this week and is back healthy after suffering a knee injury in an offense that has taken on some changes over the past few months.  
"I think it's a role reversal," said Davenport. "Last year he was helping me telling me what to do, who I've got. Now I get to show him some stuff. I am telling him when he takes the field, as far as the knee, let it go."

Steelers' Davenport feeling more comfortable

The way Najeh Davenport measures it, a football player is only as fast as his field intelligence, his grasp of the game plan, his comprehension of the playbook.
And, man, he feels his brain synapse at 4.4, 4.5 speed nowadays.

It's a completely different Steelers state of mind from last fall.

"He had to learn everything on the run last year," new Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians recalled of the backup running back, who was signed the day after the team's 2006 season opener. "It was really game plan to game plan. Now he's learning the nuances of the offense."

Davenport agrees to 2-year deal

The Steelers signed backup running back Najeh Davenport to a two-year, $2 million contract yesterday, paying him the kind of money that should put him high in their plans for next season.

Davenport, who would have become an unrestricted free agent, received a $405,000 signing bonus, a salary of $595,000 this year and $1 million next year. He is entering his sixth season in the NFL.

The Steelers signed Davenport to a one-year contract after their first game last season when Green Bay released him. He eventually became their backup to starter Willie Parker after Verron Haynes was injured at midseason. New coach Mike Tomlin has stated a preference for using two running backs, something that is becoming a trend in the NFL.

Davenport, 6 feet 1 and 247 pounds, gained 221 yards on 60 carries last season and also returned kickoffs.