Veteran DavenSays He's Ready to Play Kick Returner Role for Colts
INDIANAPOLIS – Three days ago, Najeh Davenport knew little about the Colts.
Three days from now, he'll play a critical role for the team.
Davenport, a veteran running back who signed with the Colts as a free agent earlier this week, almost certainly will handle the team's kickoff duties Sunday, Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy said Thursday. Dungy also said Davenport could be the backup running back.
All of which Davenport said Thursday is fine with him, because as far as running back, he said he's learning the Colts' offense quickly.
And as far as returning kicks?
He said he's already ready for that.
"Whatever they have me do," Davenport said Thursday as the Colts (9-4) prepared to play the Detroit Lions (0-13) at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis Sunday at 1 p.m.
"Kick returns, you catch the ball, get downfield and try to get a first down."
Davenport (6-feet-1, 247 pounds), originally a fourth-round selection in the 2002 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers, was waived by the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 1. He has started three of 71 games in seven seasons, and has returned 84 kickoffs for a 22.5-yard career average.
Davenport, who played collegiately at the University of Miami, played for the Packers from 2002-2005, playing for the Steelers the past three seasons until his release. He has rushed for 1,793 yards and 13 touchdowns on 386 career carries.
He also has caught 50 passes for 484 yards and three touchdowns.
Dungy said Wednesday Davenport's familiarity with the Colts' system – having played under former Colts quarterbacks coach Bruce Arians while in Pittsburgh – could benefit Davenport, who said on Thursday he felt comfortable in Indianapolis' scheme.
"It's the same – our protections, our routes – stuff like that," Davenport said. "You have different terminology here. That's basically it."
Also Thursday, the Colts released their second injury report of the week, with Addai (shoulder), middle linebacker Gary Brackett (fibula), defensive end Keyunta Dawson (hamstring), defensive tackle Eric Foster (neck), wide receiver Pierre Garcon (not injury related-personal), linebacker Tyjuan Hagler (knee), safety Bob Sanders (knee), running back Chad Simpson (ankle) and offensive tackle Tony Ugoh (knee) listed as not participating in practice.
Freddy Keiaho, who missed practice Wednesday with an abdomen issue, returned to practice Thursday, while Ugoh was added to the injury report Thursday.
All of the other players who missed Thursday also missed Wednesday.
Dungy said Colts center Saturday likely will play after missing two weeks with a calf injury, and while said Addai's status likely will be a game-time decision, he said he's not counting on Simpson playing. Dungy said if neither Addai nor Simpson can play, the Colts likely will activate Lance Ball from the practice squad.
Dungy also said Hagler likely will not play.
Also, Colts rookie running back Mike Hart and returner T.J. Rushing – each of whom are on injured reserve with season-ending knee injuries, are at the facility rehabilitating.
"It was tough, but there was nothing you could do about it," said Hart, who sustained his injury in a Week 5 victory over Baltimore. "It's a game. I'm still alive. It could have been worse. It was just my ACL, and it was really nothing else."
Said Rushing, "It definitely was (difficult watching games) at the beginning. It's getting – I wouldn't say easier, but I'm handling it every Sunday. I definitely wish I could be out there helping."
Also, the Colts awarded game balls for Sunday's victory over the Cincinnati Bengals to tight end Gijon Robinson (offense), cornerback Kelvin Hayden (defense) and cornerback Dante Hughes (special teams).