The Green Bay Packers turned to old friend John Dorsey in building vital depth at running back.
The Packers acquired Knile Davis from the Kansas City Chiefs, a source confirmed. As of about 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Davis was on his way to Green Bay.
Green Bay sent a conditional late-round pick to the Chiefs, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter.
It’s a big deal for the Packers, who got by with a hobbled Eddie Lacy and receiver Ty Montgomery in the backfield for Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys. Lacy won’t have much time to heal for Thursday night’s game against Chicago. Lacy’s backup, James Starks, had knee surgery on Sunday and won’t be available for at least a week or two. The plan was to promote Don Jackson from the practice squad to serve as Lacy’s backup for Thursday. That promotion likely will still happen, according to a source, given Lacy's uncertain status.
To create room for Davis, the Packers placed cornerback Sam Shields on injured reserve. The move is not retroactive to the concussion, sustained on Sept. 11, so he can begin practicing in six weeks and return to the field in eight weeks. That could put him back on the field vs. Chicago on Dec. 18, the 14th game of the season.
"The plan for Sam is to get him healthy, Number 1," coach Mike McCarthy said before the announcement was made. "It's going to be longer than we might expected, so it's just going off the last conversation I've had with Sam. It's just important to go one day at a time and make sure we get him healthy."
Davis won’t have much time to learn the offense. The Packers will practice today and have a light workout on Wednesday to get ready for the Bears. Green Bay’s and Kansas City’s schemes are rooted in the West Coast offense, so there might be some common language to ease the learning curve.
Davis, a third-round pick out of Arkansas in 2013, got lost on the Chiefs’ loaded backfield depth chart. After rushing for 463 yards in 2014, Davis carried 28 times for 72 yards (2.6 average) last year and just once for minus-2 yards this season.
“He’s definitely excited about the opportunity,” a source said, noting Davis was inactive last week and fourth on the depth chart behind Jamaal Charles, Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West.
At 227 pounds, Davis fits the mold as a big back. He’s never been a great receiver — 31 career receptions — and has seven career fumbles, plus one in last year’s playoff loss to New England. He is a capable kickoff returner. He returned one for a 106-yard touchdown vs. Houston in last year’s playoffs and also had return touchdowns in 2013 and 2014. He boasts a career average of 27.2 yards per runback.
Davis was selected with the expectation that he'd eventually replace Charles. He's got a great blend of size and speed and strength — a 4.37 clocking in the 40 with 31 reps on the 225-pound bench press at the 2013 Combine — but never put it all together. The fumbles could be due to, in part, small hands. He had 8 5/8-inch hands at the Combine compared to 9 1/2 for Lacy and 9 3/8 for Jonathan Franklin, who the Packers took in the fourth round of that draft.
The Packers saw plenty of Davis in the preseason. Davis carried 14 times for 58 yards (4.1 average) and one touchdown and caught one pass for 7 yards against the Packers in the preseason finale. He ran well in that game. The feeling is Davis can be productive if given a role in the offense instead of being used sporadically week after week after week.
Green Bay will take on Davis’ $675,000 base salary. Like Lacy, he will be a free agent at season's end.
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.