Knile Davis might be the Pittsburgh Steelers real backup running

Knile Davis might be the Pittsburgh Steelers real backup running

It was easy for the fanbase to get charged up when the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted former Pitt running back James Conner. Not only is his comeback story tremendous, but he’s a local hero and oh, by the way, a great football player. But is he the second-best option on the team? Maybe not.

When Pittsburgh signed running back Knile Davis back in March, the first thought was special teams. In his first four seasons, Davis has become a very effective kick returner with a career 26.8 yards per return. But perhaps the veteran from the University of Arkansas can be even more.

Knile Davis might be the Pittsburgh Steelers real backup running
Pittsburgh Steelers

Going back and studying Davis the running back and not Davis the return man, several things stand out. First is the speed. It takes him a handful of steps to get to top speed, but once he has that 227 pounds going downhill he pulls away from smaller defenders.

But beyond the speed, it’s Davis vision that stands out. For a speed back, he seems to thrive running between the tackles. This is a natural gift and part of why he is so good at returning kicks. The Kansas City Chiefs used Davis sparingly as a running back, but his yards per carry was low in part because they played to on the outside because of his speed.

Unfortunately, he struggled working parallel to the line of scrimmage and it showed. But in the system the Steelers play, where backs look for lanes and typically have a free run to the second level, Davis could be great. There are subtle things to the NFL game that only a veteran can provide, and that might make Davis a better fit to back up Bell early in the season.

Sutton will be joining former Dobyns-Bennett Indian, Coty Sensabaugh, in the defensive backfield for the Steelers, after Sensabaugh signed with Pittsburgh in the offseason.

The two have become friends over the years after being introduced through fellow Kingsport native and Volunteer, Malik Foreman. Sensabaugh was thrilled to see Sutton taken by Pittsburgh in the draft and hopes to offer some guidance in his rookie season.
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