The Post-Gazette caught my eye with a headline about Steelers running back Najeh Davenport. The headline reads:
Steelers' Davenport Feeling More Comfortable.
First thing that went through my mind was, "Oh no, Najeh took a shit in someone's closet again." I know dropping the kids off in a closet definitely makes me more comfortable. (Side note: Yes, I have taken a crap in a closet, much like Najeh. Unlike Najeh, however, it was the 1980s, I was about 3 years old, had just got done taking a bath, and my 2 older sisters felt the need to play hide and seek at that exact moment. What else was a naked 3-year old who had to take a dump to do? Side note over. Back to Najeh.)
Instead, the article, written by Chuck Finder, describes the differences between Davenport's current ability to learn the offense and last year's "on the fly" techniques by the RB who joined the team after the start of the season. This yeay, Davenport has the chance to participate in minicamps, OTAs and training camp before actually taking the field with the Steelers. After being cut by the Packers, Najeh was not afforded these privileges last season. He was thrust into a backup role, and was counted on to catch screens, run the ball when Bill Parker was getting a breather and also run back kicks. While he hardly excelled in any of these facets, he did a good job of providing capable hands/legs to a team that desperately needed aplayer to fill the Bettis void. Davenport is no Bettis, and doesn't appear to be a future HOFer, but he can play a vital role in a running game that has a Pro-Bowler and a bunch of question marks.
Davenport knows his position as Pro-Bowler Willie Parker's backup is far from set in stone, especially with the arrival of Kevan Barlow. Davenport, though, is used to competition. Here is a list of running backs who were teammates of Davenport at the University of Miami:
Edgerrin James (10,385 career NFL rushings yards).
James Jackson (1,082 career NFL rushing yards).
Willis McGahee (3,365 career NFL rushing yards).
Clinton Portis (6,453 career NFL rushing yards).
Frank Gore. (2,303 career NFL rushing yards).
Combined total: 23,588 career NFL rushing yards.
Najeh played some fullback at Miami, just with hopes of getting playing time with other future stars in his midst. In essence, Davenport knows how to compete, and how to go above and beyond typical RB duties (I smile every time I get to use the word "duties." Haven't used it since Sepulveda was given the punting duties). Now that he has more time to grasp the Steelers' playbook and learn more of the offense, I expect bigger things from the Dump Truck (I love that nickname) this season.