Attempting to shore up an injury-riddled backfield, the Green Bay Packers have traded a conditional late-round draft pick to the Kansas City Chiefs for running back Knile Davis, per Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star.
It’s no secret the Green Bay Packers need help at running back. Eddie Lacy exited Green Bay’s week five win against the Giants in the second half with an ankle injury and didn’t return to the game. After practicing in a limited fashion all week, Lacy rushed for 65 yards on 17 carries, but noticeably slowed down after hurdling a defender on a 25-yard scamper in the first quarter. His contact-absorbing style of running often gets him banged up, and it’s hard to run on a sprained ankle with his burly 235 lb. (or more) frame.
Lacy ran as well as he could on Sunday, but even 17 carries is asking a lot of a running back with an ankle sprain. James Starks has proven to be a more than capable backup over the years, but Rob Demovsky of ESPN reports that Starks will “likely miss several weeks” after undergoing surgery to trim a torn meniscus in his knee. A hobbled Lacy and no Starks left the Packers incredibly thin at running back heading into Sunday’s clash with the Cowboys, but Packers management elected to add roster depth on the defensive line and at cornerback due to plenty of injuries in the secondary. It was a risky move that had negative results, as the Packers offense slowed down without a credible rushing threat to keep the pressure off Aaron Rodgers and the passing game.
The Packers have undrafted rookie running back Don Jackson on the practice squad, but apparently didn’t feel comfortable enough with his skills to bring him up to the 53-man roster. Trading for Knile Davis makes sense for a team thin at running back, though it’s surprising considering general manager Ted Thompson’s next-man-up philosophy.
Davis is a smart, low-risk move for the Packers, even if it’s an unsexy one. Davis, a third-round pick out of Arkansas in the 2013 draft, is a good athlete who possesses immense upside but needed a change of scenery after falling out of favor with Chiefs management. Davis was drafted by the regime prior to Reid, but struggled with fumbling and pass blocking issues and lost backup duties to running backs Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West, who have both proven to be very solid. In his brief time with the Chiefs, Davis ran for 775 yards on 223 carries which resulted in a boring 3.3 YPC, but also ran for 11 touchdowns. He additionally added 260 receiving yards and a score through the air and figures to help Rodgers as a receiver out of the backfield. Davis’ reportedly worked hard to improve his receiving skills in the offseason.
Though Davis’ numbers don’t leap off the page, he’s a tough, 230 lb. back who ran a speedy 4.37 40-yard dash out of college, so he should provide a nice change of pace to Lacy. Additionally, expect him to get opportunities returning kicks, where he has made the biggest name for himself over the years. The biggest play of his career came last season when he took the opening kickoff 106 yards to the house in the Wild Card playoff game against the Houston Texans. Davis has averaged 27.2 yards per kickoff return with two touchdowns in his career. For reference, Cordarelle Patterson leads the league this year with an average of 29.9 yards per return.
In the end, Green Bay got a young player with plenty of upside, at a position of dire need, for a conditional late-round draft pick. For a GM that never trades, this is a solid if unspectacular move by Ted Thompson. Davis only has three days to learn the playbook before the Packers host the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Thursday night. It’s a short week, but expect Davis to log at least 15 snaps, with a likelihood for more should Lacy be limited.
Photo courtesy of kansascity.com