Speaking to the Associated Press yesterday OLB Thomas Davis was candid about his gratitude to the Carolina Panthers organization, and his attempt to return to the NFL after his third torn ACL. This from NFL.com:
"I'm just very appreciative of this team to give me the opportunity to come back three times. I think that is part of the problem with a lot of guys that had torn their knees up three times -- they were never given that opportunity. So I'm extremely appreciative to the Panthers."
When I look at the Panthers roster moving forward, and try to project depth charts TD is the agonizing lump in my throat. Davis has done everything asked of him, he is a class act who does a tremendous amount in the community, and is a standard bearer for the 'Panther way'. However, it's hard to look at the roster moving forward and imagine that the organization are planning to feature Davis. Luke Kuechly was drafted for a reason, and if the front office thought TD could give another five years, then BPA wouldn't have even mattered in the pick. James Anderson and Jon Beason just got large extensions, and Kuechly was drafted as the last piece of the puzzle.
While the chances are we have seen the last of Thomas Davis being a heavily featured part of the defense, that doesn't mean he can't be effective. The Panthers can easily transition Davis into a role where he's the first linebacker off the bench, and a change-of-pace pass rusher who could make a big difference. It's easy to look at this as a huge demotion, but look at Aldon Smith of the San Francisco 49ers last year-- he made a huge impact solely on third down, and while the positions are different the concept is the same.
Davis is still waiting to be cleared by Dr. James Andrews, and we haven't seen him able to participate in workouts thus far, but hopefully in Spartanburg we'll see the dynamic difference maker we saw in 2008 when he totaled 113 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and 6 passes defended.