Lacy injury leads to deal for Davis

Tom Silverstein
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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Kansas City Chiefs running back Knile Davis (34) rushes for a touchdown past Green Bay Packers inside linebacker Jake Ryan (47) in the first half of a preseason game at Arrowhead Stadium.
  • Packers give up 2018 conditional seventh-round pick in trade for Davis
  • Practice squad rookie Don Jackson still expected to be signed to 53-man roster
  • Eddie Lacy's ankle injury likely to sideline him for several weeks

GREEN BAY - On his first day as a member of the Green Bay Packers, running back Knile Davis spent his time playing with quarterback Brett Hundley on the scout team.

As much as the Packers would like to ease him into their offense, that's going to change quickly.

Davis should be running, blocking and receiving in the same backfield as Aaron Rodgers against the Chicago Bears on Thursday night because the Packers' running back position has become a scrapheap of bruised and battered bodies and they desperately need help from the newcomer.

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With starter Eddie Lacy expected to be out at least a few weeks with an ankle injury, according to a league source, the Packers agreed Monday night to deal a 2018 conditional seventh-round draft choice to the Kansas City Chiefs for the 5-10, 227-pound Davis. The fourth-year back becomes the first player acquired by the Packers in a trade since safety Anthony Smith was obtained from the Jacksonville Jaguars on Oct. 18, 2010, for a conditional seventh-round draft pick.

On Tuesday, Davis arrived from Kansas City around 10 a.m., giving him about 4½ hours to take his physical, meet with his coaches, get fitted for practice gear and get down to Clarke Hinkle Field. With Lacy on the field watching and lending support, Davis mostly just watched the No. 1 offense operate with practice squad running back Don Jackson and wide receiver Ty Montgomery at Lacy's position.

"I did scout team, that was good to get my feet wet," Davis said after practice. "I did special teams. It was cool. All day today, all day tomorrow, before the game, (I'll be) trying to learn as much as I can."

Newly acquired RB Knile Davis catches passes from a jugs machine at practice.

In addition to Lacy's injury, backup James Starks is out this week after having arthroscopic surgery Sunday to clean out debris in his knee. According to coach Mike McCarthy, Starks is expected to miss several weeks, leaving Davis, Montgomery and receiver Randall Cobb as the only running options on the 53-man roster.

Though McCarthy said Jackson was still a member of the practice squad, a source said he is expected to be signed to the active roster Wednesday. Because he took part in the offseason program and rejoined the team in Week 1 after being released just before training camp, Jackson has a solid working knowledge of the offense and may get the starting nod Thursday night.

"Don Jackson will actually work," McCarthy said, stopping himself before declaring him the starter. "He’ll work some, but he’s obviously still a practice-squad member. We’ve got to make sure he’s ready, if needed."

In order to make room for Davis, the Packers placed cornerback Sam Shields, out since suffering a concussion Week 1 against Jacksonville, on injured reserve. When Jackson is added to the 53-man roster, the Packers will have to make another roster move and may wind up putting someone else on injured reserve.

POLL: What hurts the Packers more: losing Sam Shields for several weeks or losing Eddie Lacy for several weeks?

That possibly could be Lacy, whose ankle -- first injured against the New York Giants on Oct. 9 -- got much worse during the Dallas game Sunday. McCarthy would only say that Lacy would not be available for practice Tuesday and was "very sore."

With just one more day of practice before playing the Bears, the Packers are going to try to find a suitable number of plays for Davis, who has experience as a third-down back and could help McCarthy get through the game. Having played for West Coast disciple Andy Reid in Kansas City, Davis has some basic understanding of McCarthy's system, but learning the protections and checks will be a challenge.

"There’s some things you can kind of bring him along (with)," offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett said. "The first part of it is truly the introduction to the playbook, how we go about doing certain things from a technique standpoint and a fundamental standpoint. Everything has been extremely positive as far as what you hear about him, and I think our guys have a good grasp on what he’s able to do for us."

Davis had fallen deep on the Chiefs’ depth chart with the emergence of Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West as capable backups to star running back Jamaal Charles, who recently returned from a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered last season. Davis was once thought to be a successor to Charles, but Reid wasn't satisfied with Davis' performance as a blocker and receiver and began using him less and less.

Since the start of the 2015 season, Davis has played in 18 games, but he has only 29 carries for 70 yards (2.5 average). This season, he had only one carry for minus-2.  In three-plus years, he has carried 233 times for 775 yards (3.3 average) and 11 touchdowns. He has 31 catches for 260 yards (8.4) and a touchdown.

Davis started against the Packers in the final exhibition game Sept. 1 in Kansas City and had an impressive night, carrying 14 times for 58 yards and a touchdown. He also had one catch for seven yards.

"I feel like I'm off the reins," Davis said. "I've been on the sideline, I've been itching to get in the game, you know, be part of the team  — which I was in Kansas City. I did what I could. I'm just excited to be a part of Green Bay and do what I can here. Hopefully, my role is bigger."

Drafted in the third round out of Arkansas in 2013, Davis ran the 40-yard dash in 4.37 seconds. He had a vertical jump of 33.5 inches and benched 225 pounds a remarkable 31 times. Davis was part of Kansas City general manager John Dorsey's first draft class following his long stint in the Packers' front office.

During his three-plus years with the Chiefs, Davis scored three kickoff return touchdowns, including a memorable 106-yarder on the opening kick in a wild-card victory over the Houston Texans in January. Davis also had a 108-yard touchdown return as a rookie and a 99-yard touchdown return in 2014.

"He was a guy that we were always concerned about having played against him," special teams coach Ron Zook said. "A lot of talent. I’ve always felt like those guys are guys that either got or they don’t, and he’s got some natural ability and he’s obviously fast and he had one of the longer returns against us last year."

Davis, who is in the final year of his four-year, $2,751,016 contract, has a base salary of $675,000. The Packers will absorb 11/17th of that or $436,765 on their current salary cap and hope that he is worth every dime of it.

He's hoping to make their investment count.

"Really, just running the ball," Davis said of what he can add. "I feel like that’s what’s they’re stressing. ‘You’ve got to get the run game going,’ and I think I can help with that."

Ryan Wood of USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin contributed to this report.

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