Chicago Bears: What does Knile Davis signing mean?
The Chicago Bears recently signed running back Knile Davis. What kind of chances does he have at the 53-man roster.
When the Chicago Bears released interior lineman Kaleb Johnson, the first thought was, maybe James Daniels has officially made this team comfortable with their line depth. Johnson was signed to replace another interior lineman in Jack Allen, showing that this team was looking for answers in the bottom of the position.
However, the subsequent move when getting rid of Johnson left, even more to dissect behind it. The Chicago Bears signed Knile Davis, a running back formerly with the Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers, and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Davis is a known quantity in the NFL. He was cut by the Steelers in camp last season but has four NFL seasons under his belt. While he only averages 3.2 yards per carry on the ground in his career, he also brings return skills, with a 26.8 yards per return rate.
So, if Kaleb Johnson and Jack Allen were brought in because Hroniss Grasu has failed to complete the depth on the interior, why was Knile Davis brought in?
Likely because between Ryan Nall and Taquan Mizzell, neither has shown an ability to be trusted as depth on the 53-man roster. The two have battled for snaps, and while Nall is slowly taking the lead in the battle, he has looked like a practice squad player.
On top of that, Benny Cunningham is currently on the sideline with a shoulder injury. Cunningham is typically looked at as the teams third down back.
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Cunningham has experience returning kicks and returned seven as the up back last season. He also has experience in pass protection, something Mizzell struggled at in the preseason, and Nall has yet to show.
Matt Nagy spent some time with Davis in Kansas City. He likely understands that between Mizzell, Nall, and Davis, that Davis is the best pass protector of the bunch. He knows that Davis can fill the Cunningham role better than Mizzell or Nall in the return game as well.
So, if Cunningham were to regain health and look like a capable third-down back, does Davis have a role? Unlikely.
The need to keep a fourth back, after considering Michael Burton will make the team as a fullback seems like overkill. Especially when Davis has the same skill set of Cunningham to a lesser degree.
This move probably means the days of Taquan Mizzell are over. Mizzell has struggled every step of the way this year, and the team cannot trust him to slide into the Cunningham role if needed. While Ryan Nall has more NFL upside, and the Chicago Bears would like to retain him on the practice squad, they still see Davis as a current upgrade, considering the lack of experience Nall has. If Cunningham is injured and it may linger into the season, the Chicago Bears would feel more comfortable with Davis than either of their other backs making the roster.
Before getting too excited about Davis, remember, the Pittsburgh Steelers felt good about keeping Fitzgerlad Toussaint over him. This move should signify that while Davis himself may not be fit for the 53-man roster himself, that Mizzell is entirely not fit for the role, and Ryan Nall still has a long ways to go.