With Pittsburgh Steelers starting running back Le’Veon Bell deciding not to report for the start of training camp on Thursday, a few of the other running backs on the roster will presumably get a little extra work during the summer practices. While rookie James Conner could certainly use the extra practice reps, the same goes for offseason free agent addition Knile Davis.
“I’m just taking advantage of getting more reps, getting more opportunities and we’re going to take it day-by-day. It’s a day-by-day process,” Davis told Missi Matthews of steelers.com during a recent one-on-one interview.
So how many reps does Davis feel like he needs during training camp and the preseason in order to feel good about where his overall game is at now that he’s in Pittsburgh?
“For me, coming from another system, it’s kind of the same – different terminology – but at the end of the day, football is football, it’s just different timing that you want to get down with the quarterbacks,” Davis said. “I pretty much got the game down. It’s just terminology, making sure I’m on the same page with the quarterbacks with timing. But for the most part, I know what to do.”
While the Steelers are probably hoping that Davis can be the team’s kick returner this year due to the previous success he’s had during his career in the NFL in that phase of the game, head coach Mike Tomlin said on Thursday that he’s hopeful the Arkansas product and former third-round draft pick can offer the team more than just that.
“We will see,” Tomlin said when asked if Davis can be more than a kick returner in Pittsburgh. “That’s why we are here in Latrobe. “All of these guys will be given an opportunity to carve out a role for themselves. Knile is a guy that comes with somewhat of a resume, particularly as a return man. We are interested in seeing what he can do as a ball carrier as well.”
Davis, who spent most of his first four seasons in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs, only carried the football a total of 18 times last season with five of those coming as a member of the Green Bay Packers. In 2015 with the Chiefs, he only carried the football 28 times during the regular season and averaged a paltry 2.6 yards per carry. In short, he hasn’t really been a an overly productive running back in the league so far during his career and at least not since 2014.
“In this league, I feel you like have to prove yourself every year Its really a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league and the past is the past,” Davis told Matthews.
With Bell nowhere close to Latrobe right now, Davis is the most experienced running back the Steelers have in training camp and thus he feels like he’s now one of the co-leaders in the position group meeting room.
“I would say me and Fitz [Fitzgerald Toussaint],” Davis said, when asked who the leader is right now in the running back room. “I would say Fitz because he’s been around, he knows the system, he knows what’s going on around here. And I would say myself, just because I’ve got the experience. A lot of the young guys ask me a lot of questions. I try to help them where I can.”
So, does Davis have any goals set for himself this year?
“Yes, it’s to take one day at a time and to do my best every day,” he told Matthews.