Packers' Davenport not interested in Dolphins
By The Source
Aug 3, 2004
"When I heard about it, I was a little disappointed," acknowledged Davenport, who called his position coach, Johnny Roland, and also his mentor Edgar Bennett, the team's director of player development "and asked them if I had any say-so in it. But they assured me that it wasn't going to happen.
"I really didn't want to come back home yet," Davenport said. "I wanted to stay here."
Davenport, entering his third NFL season, wants to serve as Green's backup for a second straight season because his apprenticeship is unfinished, he said.
"Right now, I've got people telling me that teams in the league regard me as a starting back, but right now I'm backing up A.G. and I'm still learning a lot," Davenport said. "I'm picking up everything I can."
Except a starter's paycheck, which could come before long. He'll be a restricted free agent after this season and an unrestricted one after 2005.
Davenport said he feels there's a big difference in being wanted by a team and being needed by the Dolphins.
"I don't want to be the slim picking out of a bunch of no-name guys," Davenport said. "I just didn't want to go. I wanted somebody that really wants me instead of being backed up against a wall where their starting running back retired, quit or what have you."
Green, who often has to take a break when his asthma flares up, said he couldn't have rushed for a team record 1,883 yards and scored 20 touchdowns last year without Davenport and Tony Fisher backing him up.
"I can't do what I do without them," Green said. "Me, Najeh and Tony, we all help each other out, just spelling each other for a couple of plays, and that helps in the long run. Look at November, December, January, games come around, fourth quarters are a lot easier when you got two guys behind you that can do third down or catch the ball just as good as you.
"It makes it a lot easier, a lot less worrisome."
Davenport, entering his third season, had the second-best rushing average (5.45 yards per carry) among the NFL's top 59 running backs last season. Only college teammate Clinton Portis (5.49) had a better average.
Davenport rushed 77 times for 420 yards and two touchdowns and caught six passes for 38 yards. He also averaged 31.6 yards on 16 kickoff returns.
Fisher chipped in 200 yards and a touchdown on 40 carries, giving the Packers three running backs with averages above 5 yards a carry, and caught 21 passes for 20 yards and two TDs.
Even with Fisher around, coach/general manager Mike Sherman isn't keen on the idea of parting with Davenport.
"I don't think you can shut the door totally on anything at any time," Sherman said. "But I am pretty adamant about the fact that in order to win a championship in the environment that we play in you have to be able to run the football.
"So, I think that backup tailback is so critical for your success and it doesn't take much for you to be in the same situation that Miami is in."
It's just a matter of time, though, before Davenport will be a starter and a star, suggested Green.
"He's going to have an opportunity just like I had an opportunity to come here and play," said Green, whom the Packers acquired in a trade with Seattle in 2000. "Right now he's happy here, but he continues to get better and there's going to be a day where he's going to get picked up by somebody or he might take over the starting job here, who knows? That day is coming."
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