Steelers desperate for RB depth

Head coach Bill Cowher said following a season-opening 28-17 victory over the Miami Dolphins Thursday night that he is wary of overworking starter Willie Parker, who had a career-high 29 carries.

With that in mind, the Steelers signed former Green Bay running back Najeh Davenport and released Patrick Cobbs, who was acquired just last week in a trade with New England.

"We need to monitor how much we're using this kid," said Cowher of Parker, who gained 115 yards and added 13 more on three receptions. "He's not a big kid so we'll continue to monitor that."

However, it's not Parker's status that will be affected the most. The signing of Davenport, who was released last week by Green Bay, will affect Duce Staley more.

The 6-1, 247-pound Davenport is a power runner in the mold of Jerome Bettis, a role the Steelers hoped Staley would fill.

But the 31-year-old Staley averaged just over two yards per carry during the preseason and though he was active for Thursday night's game, he did not play.

Davenport has rushed for 1,068 yards with an average of 4.9 yards per carry in four seasons backing up Ahman Green. He played just five games last season after breaking an ankle Oct. 9 against New Orleans. During the preseason, he looked like a player who was still recovering from that injury.

But if the Steelers find he has more left in the tank than Staley, Staley could be sent packing.

A fourth-round pick of the Packers in 2002, Davenport starred at the University of Miami (Fla.). Not long after being drafted by the Packers, he was arrested just for breaking into a woman's apartment in Miami and defecating in a laundry basket in her closet. Davenport was charged with a second-degree felony count of burglary and a misdemeanor count of criminal mischief.

Though he denied the charges, Davenport agreed to do community service to settle the charges.

It's not a typical signing for the Steelers, who usually shy away from guys who have made such a public display of stupidity.

But after watching Parker get 32 touches Thursday night, maybe they realized they need somebody behind Parker other than Verron Haynes, who himself has made it through a full season just once without getting injured.

Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter

Steel City Insider Top Stories