Bills' Davis content to carry backup title to Thomas

January 27, 1993|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Staff Writer

LOS ANGELES -- Until recently, Kenneth Davis was the best-kept secret in the NFL. Now, in the glow of Super Bowl XXVII, that title has been upgraded to best backup running back in football.

That's due to the lift Davis gave the Buffalo Bills during their wild-card playoff run.

While Thurman Thomas struggled with a painful hip pointer, Davis delivered a viable running game for the Bills.

In three playoff games, he has rushed for 233 yards, averaging 5.5 a carry. And he gained another 77 yards on six pass receptions.

Not bad for a former Green Bay Packers reject who joined the Bills in 1989 through Plan B free agency.

"If he had more playing time somewhere else, Kenny Davis would have a couple of rushing titles," Thomas said yesterday.

Davis, a second-round draft pick out of TCU in 1986, made 21 starts in three years in Green Bay.

His career with the Packers was one of diminishing returns, though. His average carry dropped from 4.6 yards as a rookie to 3.8 to 3.1.

When an ankle injury knocked him out of the lineup in 1988, it also knocked him out of Green Bay's plans. He was left unprotected after the season.

"It's like having a Rolls Royce," Davis said of his Packers career. "Just because you have a dent in it doesn't mean you sell it."

In the past two years as Thomas' backup, Davis has rushed for 624 and 613 yards.

While he admits he thinks about being the featured back somewhere, he says he's content in Buffalo.

"[Leaving] is not something I'm concerned about," said Davis, who has two years left on his contract.

"I don't think I'm in Thurman's shadow. But if I am, I'm trying to carry it on a little farther."

As a prep star in Missouri City, Texas, Thurman Thomas was instantly won over by a college recruiter named Jimmy Johnson, who, at the time, coached the Cowboys of Oklahoma State.

"The first time I met him, I knew I was going to Oklahoma State," Thomas said. "My mom asked him if he would be there for my four years, and he said yes.

"About two weeks later, he took his butt to Miami. I've always held it against him," Thomas said, laughing. "But he's a great guy."

Johnson stayed in Miami long enough to win a national championship. In 1989, he became coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

Bennett will be there

Linebacker Cornelius Bennett, hobbled with a pulled hamstring, says he'll play Sunday against the Cowboys.

"Mentally, I am getting all the work done," said Bennett, who hasn't practiced since the AFC championship game. "I do anticipate playing on Sunday. I am probably 90 percent right now. but me at 90 percent is better than some players at 100 percent. The injury has given me some rest, so you'll probably see a quicker Cornelius Bennett. I was desperately in need of some rest."

The Bills did not practice yesterday.

Reading material

Bills coach Marv Levy, a Harvard grad, says he's reading two books this week. One is the Harry Truman biography by David McCullough. The other is a book given to him by general manager Bill Polian, "You've Gotta Play Hurt," by Dan Jenkins.

"So one is a little bit lighter than the other and I'm enjoying them both," Levy said.

Changing the spin

Linebacker Darryl Talley on the thorny issue of the NFC's eight-year dominance over the AFC in the Super Bowl: "This isn't the AFC vs. the NFC. This is a football game between the Buffalo Bills and the Dallas Cowboys, and it just happens to be played in Los Angeles. The other one [Pro Bowl, between the two conferences] will be played next week in Honolulu."

Speaking of dominance

For the record, the Bills went 4-0 against NFC teams this year. They beat the San Francisco 49ers (34-31) and New Orleans Saints (20-16) on the road, and walloped the Los Angeles Rams (40-7) and the Atlanta Falcons (41-14) at home.

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