Davenport's return means crowded backfield

You can never have too many good running backs, a lesson the Green Bay Packers painfully learned last season.

To safeguard against a repeat, the Packers have re-signed unrestricted free agent halfback Najeh Davenport, nearly three weeks after retaining Ahman Green just before he became an unrestricted free agent.

Coupled with the team's leading returing rusher, Samkon Gado, under contract for another year, and it could be a crowded backfield for the Packers.

Assuming all three stay healthy, new coach Mike McCarthy will face an interesting dilemma: Who starts, who will be the primary backup and who will be the third-down back?

If he's all the way back from a torn quadriceps tendon, Green's pedigree almost certainly would make him the starter. That would put Davenport into the backup role he's served during his four injury-marred seasons in Green Bay. That would make Gado the third-down back, but he has limited experience as a pass blocker and pass receiver.

Thus, there's a chance one of the three won't make it out of training camp, and Packers general manager Ted Thompson - either before training camp or as the season approaches - will have to find an accomplished receiver out of the backfield.

And without a true third-down back, will Thompson go shopping in free agency - perhaps on Seattle's Maurice Morris or Jacksonville's LaBrandon Toefield - or will he spend one of his precious-few five draft picks?

Or, will Gado become a reliable enough ball carrier - that is, will he stop fumbling the football - that Davenport will be the No. 2 back and Green, a superb receiver, will be the third-down back?

Those are questions that will be answered another day, of course. But they are questions that Thompson must keep in mind as he continues building his 2006 team.

Lawrence is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com. Send comments to steve_lawrence_packers@yahoo.com

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