He’s baaaaack. And no closet in Western Pennsylvania is safe from his dookie dropping Anus of Doom.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen of Steeler Nation, Najeh Davenport has returned.
In the wake of last Monday’s game with the Ravens, where the Steelers helmet logo should’ve been replaced by a Red Cross, Pittsburgh has resigned every coed’s nightmare. Joining him in the backfield will be Gary Russell, who had been banished to the practice squad when head coach Mike Tomlin decided an extra special teams player was more important than a 3rd string running back.
I can’t really blame Tomlin, though. One back getting injured? Okay. Two guys going down? Alright. Three RBs out of commission? No way, no how.
Except that’s exactly the situation our favorite team currently find themselves in. Fast Willie Parker hurt his knee and is out until after the bye. Rashard Mendenhall broke his collarbone and is finished for the year. FB Carey Davis sprained his ankle, which is being kept hush-hush but sounds a lot like the high ankle sprain which kept WR Santonio Holmes out for significant time last year. Mewelde Moore, ostensibly our third-down back, is the last man standing.
Thankfully, the cavalry is on the way in the form of the Dumptruck. Being familiar with the offense allows him to be put into a featured role right away. Also, Davenport’s big enough to play either RB or FB, thus allowing him to fill in for Davis. Don’t be shocked to see him and Moore share the backfield. Sure, he didn’t show much last season when thrust into the featured back role but desperate times call for desperate measures.
Besides, what else is there? The Cincinnati Bungles just signed Bears castoff Cedric Benson. You know, the guy who was cut after getting busted for two DUIs. Way to address that character issue, Cincy. There’s the World’s Most Fertile Running Back, Travis Henry. He could use the work, what with having to support 8 different kids from 8 different women. But there’s the whole stealing stuff out of teammate’s lockers issue. Finally, I guess we could sign former Super Bowl nemesis and league MVP, Shaun Alexander. You’d think someone would’ve taken a shot on him. I mean, not the Steelers, because they like players who run towards contact, but other, less interesting teams.
Other than the running back sitch-U, there are a few other injuries to report. RG Kendall Simmons tore his ACL and is out for the season. Darnell Stapleton looked halfway decent when pressed into emergency service against Baltimore. It’s between him and veteran Trai Essex. I think Stapleton has the inside track. Tomlin seems to have a man crush on him as he’s been carrying him on the roster since last year when he made the team as an undrafted free agent out of Rutgers. He was projected to be a center and his supposed potential was one of the big reasons Chukky Okobi was cut. So far Tomlin has shown extraordinarily bad taste in personnel decisions so we’ll have to see how this one plays out.
If Darnell fails, Essex played capably in limited action last year. He’s in the final year of his contract so he’d be extra motivated to prove his worth. If he failed, and let’s face it, our O-line is one big bucket of FAIL, they could move RT Willie Colon inside to guard. That would allow the $7 Million Dollar Man Max Starks to finally earn some of that grossly over-inflated salary. However, this is only a disaster case scenario as Tomlin seems to really have a hate on for Bionic Max and pretty much refuses to play him unless the other linemen are crippled.
Anyway, for those keeping score at home, these are the fresh faces to keep a lookout for on your 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers starting line-up (and the player they’re replacing): DE Travis Kirschke (Bret Keisel), NT Chris Hoke (Fatass Hampton), RB/FB Najeh Davenport (FWP, Mendenhall, Davis), RG Darnell Stapleton (Kendall Simmons).