'Bad stuff went on over there'

Ex-Packer Davenport thrilled to be in Pittsburgh, and outta Green Bay

Add Najeh Davenport to the list of former Packers who are happy — no, make that overjoyed — to be out of Green Bay.

Davenport, who was released by the Packers at the end of training camp and has breathed some life into the running game of the Super Bowl-champion Pittsburgh Steelers, compared his time in Green Bay to working at a Taco Bell.

"It's like a whole different game," Davenport told the Beaver County Times, a Pennsylvania newspaper that covers the Steelers. "In Green Bay, it felt like a job. ... And not like a career job. There's a difference between a career job and a job job. It felt like I was working at Taco Bell."

Ouch.

Davenport rushed 14 times for 78 yards in Sunday's rout of Kansas City, including a 48-yard burst.

It was reminiscent of Davenport's only big game during his tenure in Green Bay. In a 2004 Monday night game against the St. Louis Rams, Davenport started in place of Ahman Green and rumbled to a career-high 178 yards on 19 attempts, including a 40-yarder for a touchdown.

If Davenport could have done that on even an occasional basis, he still would be serving burritos, er, running the football for the Packers. Instead, that game against the Rams marked the only time in his four-plus-year career in which he rushed for as many as 85 yards in game.

During his four injury-plagued seasons in Green Bay, Davenport played in only 39 of a possible 64 regular-season games. In those games, he averaged 27.4 yards per game.

With Green still slowed by last season's year-ending thigh injury this summer, Davenport got his shot to be a valuable asset to the Packers, but instead he missed large chunks of practice time with leg injuries and struggled to get the knack of the zone-blocking scheme. He finished the preseason with 71 yards on 26 attempts.

"It got to the point where I couldn't wait to get out of (Green Bay)," Davenport said. "I gave a lot to the organization. I broke my eye socket. I played with a broken rib. My shoulder (injuries). Bad stuff went on over there. I'm so blessed to be right here, right now."

Perhaps his release was a slap in the face that will kick-start a career that seemed so filled with promise. Davenport said he'd stare at the Lambeau Field clock, anxious for the game to end. Pittsburgh, he said, is a place where he can thrive.

"Here, you get the feeling they let you play. I'm talking about really go out and play," Davenport said.

"They cut you loose. It's a different organization from top to bottom."

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


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