As Packers’ offense evolved, so did Dorsey Levens’ career

  • Appointed: 2009
  • Running back: 1994-2001
  • Height: 6-1; Weight: 230
  • Universities: Notre Dame, 1989-90; Georgia Tech, 1992-93
  • Pro Bowl selection (played since 1950): 1997

Miscast early in his career and doomed to injury at the end, Dorsey Lievens is all about what teams look for in a featured runner in his era’s evolving backfield set. I checked the box.

He was a big back with deceptive speed, good vision and a knack for slippery tackling. Versatility was another of Lievens’ virtues. As a receiver, he caught the ball easily with his soft hands. As a blocker, he was reliable in Blitz pickups.

“Dorsey Lievens has such potential, it’s scary,” Harry Sidney, who coached his running back for five seasons, once said. That being said, it took me some time to make use of it.

In the 1994 draft, the Packers selected Lechon Johnson in the third round. During the previous season, Darrell Thompson was their leading rusher, averaging just 654 yards and a 3.9 per carry. He also led the nation in the fall of 1993 with 1,976 rushing yards, and Heisman, who plays for Northern Illinois, finished sixth in trophy voting.

Lievens was selected by 65 players as a fullback or combo back after two rounds. And that’s what Lievens has been for over two seasons.

As a rookie, he backed up Edgar Bennett at fullback, but unrestricted free agent Reggie Cobb played halfback and was less productive than Thompson a year earlier. It was a backup and never failed. In 1995, Lievens defeated William Henderson to become his starting fullback, although he served primarily as a lead blocker for Bennett, who transitioned to halfback, and as a checkdown option in the passing game. Levens made 48 catches that year compared to 36 rushing attempts.

In 1996, Lievens lost the fullback job in training camp to the excellent blocker Henderson, and saw limited action in the first 12 games as a backup to Bennett as a halfback, not rushing for 48 yards or more. There was no

Bingo! Levens’ career took off. Coach Mike Holmgren reworked his offense at that point in the season, pushing Lievens into a more notable role. Bennett played primarily in a two-back and two-tight end formation, but Levens replaced him in a three-receiver and four-receiver set. In the last four regular season games and three playoff games, Lievens carried 80 times for 462 yards as the Packers won Super Bowl XXXI and their first NFL title in 29 years.

Lievens and Bennett combined for 32 carries and 126 yards in the NFC Division Playoffs at Lambeau Field in rain and mud. The following week at the NFC Championship in Lambeau, Bennett and Lievens had a combined rushing yards of 187. Bennett he led with 99 on 25 carries and Levens produced a big play. He rushed for 88 yards on 10 carries and contributed 117 yards on 5 passes received. Included were his 29 yards and one of the Packers’ first touchdowns and a screen on his pass that led to another touchdown late in the third quarter to a commanding 27-13 lead. was another of his 66 yards.

In the Packers’ Super Bowl victory over New England, Levens rushed for 61 yards on 14 attempts to lead the Packers, and also caught three passes for 23 yards.

His performances in these three games, especially against Carolina, were highly praised by his coaches. “He was special in a special match,” said Holmgren. “Such a performance in a match like this – I truly believe that Cream will come out on top in important matches.”

In 1997, Lievens had his best year as the Packers again qualified for the Super Bowl, which they lost to Denver. As the starting halfback after Bennett’s season-ending injury, Lievens rushed for 1,435 yards on 329 carries for a 4.4-yard average, and finished third with 53 receptions for a 7-yard average. He also scored 12 touchdowns. In his three games in the postseason, he averaged 105 rushing yards.

From a personal perspective, the highlight of Lievens’ season was beating one of the most coveted records of all team records. On November 23, he recorded his 190-yard rushing on his 33 attempts, breaking 36-year-old Jim Taylor’s his one-game rushing record of 186 yards. Levens got 145 yards in the second half against the Cowboys.

“Midway through the third quarter, in the fourth quarter, he really started to tire people out,” Sidney once said. “What I’ve noticed about Dorsey is that he runs through you once and then runs around you, so when it gets to the end of the game it gets really unsure and if[a defender]hesitates, he has 226. I mean, at 230 pounds he was exhausted.”

Lievens had another big year in 1999, rushing for 1,034 yards and catching 71 passes.

Otherwise, three of his final four seasons were mostly marred by injuries. In 1998, he suffered a lower extremity injury in the second game following a 44-day holdout, missing nine games.In 2000, he missed 11 games with both knee and ankle injuries. In 2001, he played behind Arman Green and ran for only 165 yards despite averaging 25.9 yards in kickoff returns.

The Packers released Levens following that season, but he played three more years in Philadelphia and the New York Giants, never rushing for more than 411 yards.

In his eight seasons with the Packers, Levens rushed for 3,937 yards and averaged 3.9 yards per carry. He caught 271 passes and averaged 7.7 per catch. He scored 44 touchdowns. He also played in 14 postseason games for him, rushing for his 647 yards at an average of 4.5 yards.

Born May 21, 1970. His real name is Herbert Dorsey Lievens.

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