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Packers Notebook - Davenport Concentrates On Ultimate Goal


Normally, a talented player wants every chance to get in the starting lineup and show what he can do. Very rarely does a capable player sit back and accept his role if he is good enough to start for another team.

Packers running back Najeh Davenport is one of those players who would start if it weren't for superstar Ahman Green.

Yet, Davenport is more than happy with his role in Green Bay.

"Right now I'm still Ahman's backup, so I go in there to spell him from time to time," Davenport explained. "I am still in that role, but every opportunity counts and that is how I approach the season. Every opportunity I get to make a play, I've got to make it."

When Green went down with a knee injury Friday against Jacksonville, Davenport said the last thing on his mind was being able to play.

"You hate to see anyone lying on the ground, especially someone of his caliber," Davenport said. "I gave a quick prayer for him as did everyone on the sideline. It was good to see him get back up."

It's no secret that other teams have inquired about the Packers third-year pro out of Miami. However, GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman values his backup running back too much to part with him at this point, which is important to Davenport.

"Coach Sherman has a lot of faith in me and he has shown that in the last year-and-a-half," Davenport said. "I respect him for that. I try to do everything I can to make sure he is happy with my performance."

Davenport said that what he does, however, isn't what counts. It's the team that matters most.

"Ever since my sophomore year in college, I have always been real team oriented," Davenport said. "My personal goals always came second. So anything short of the final game in Jacksonville (home of this season's Super Bowl) is obsolete right now."

Coming from an unselfish player like Davenport, that goal is no surprise.

Luchey Looking For More Work

On the same day Sherman said that Nick Luchey would receive playing time as a tailback against the Tennessee Titans Friday night, the fullback had another position on his mind.

"I've already told (defensive line coach) Jethro, I can hop to the defensive end position just in case they need me," Luchey said. "I'm still 270 pounds coming off the edge with some speed, so I might do that. I'm going to see what Coach Sherman says about that."

Obviously Luchey was joking, but he is serious about playing wherever the team needs him to play.

"I just like the game," Luchey said. "Nowadays, there aren't as many pure football players in the game. Guys are tight ends, receivers or running backs. They are one dimensional. I look at myself as old school because I can do more than one thing."

Right now, Sherman is happy to have Luchey concentrate on running back and fullback for Friday.

"I think Nick has come back to camp in better shape than last year and has done some good things," Sherman explained. "He's a blocker first and foremost, but probably will get some reps as a running back in this game. If he can do some things as a running back, if we do have an injury, it certainly helps us from a depth perspective."

Sherman Pleased With Defense's Progress

Through three exhibition games, the Packers offensive unit has struggled at times, but the defense continues to improve. Sherman said the offense will catch up, but he's pleased with the strides the defense has made so far.

"Offensively, I just want to see the consistency," Sherman said. "We are going to need to keep the ball moving down the field into the red zone and then into the end zone. Now, we've had some long drives, but we need them to culminate into the end zone to be satisfied.

"I'm pleased with our defensive red zone and our defense goal-to-go has been excellent. The first defense has only given up one touchdown, which was on the second possession in the Seattle game."

Sherman admitted his defense is far from a finished product, but he is pleased with the talent level, especially among the defensive linemen.

"We still have a long ways to go, but I am excited about the effort and the intensity of the defense," Sherman said. "I think upfront we have a group of guys that are strong and have the ability to run. At times, we've had some guys that could run but weren't as stout or some guys that were stout but couldn't run.

"I think we have a combination up front of probably the best since I have been here. And I believe we have fairly good depth as well, so we'll have a rested group on the field."

One player that has caught Sherman's eye is James Lee, the second year man out of Oregon State who spent all of last season on injured reserve.

"I thought he had an excellent game against Jacksonville," Sherman said. "He made some key plays and was very stout. He showed a fair amount of quickness and maneuverability.

"My question mark with him in the past had to do with him being a straight ahead player, but he's playing more laterally down the line of scrimmage. He's making plays. I'm pleased with him. He's a guy we didn't get much out of last year, and this year I am hoping we get a lot out of him."

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