|Davis, Panthers move forward|
|LB confident in his health, play|
|Published Saturday, July 26, 2014 12:49 pm|
Thomas Davis knows the road to the Super Bowl won’t be easy, but the Carolina Panthers linebacker is feeling better with his ACL troubles behind him.
“We feel great about the season,” Davis said at Friday night’s Fan Fest. However, he acknowledged, “we have a lot of work to do.”
Winter’s chill is a long way away from July’s sunshine in the newly renovated Bank of America Stadium, which drew more than 35,000 fans for its first public event with the upgrades. With two new 63 feet high by 212 feet long high-definition scoreboards in each end zone, a lot will be reflected on those screens over the next few months.
“We’re really excited about the renovations,” said Davis. “We’re excited about these fans being here, and we’re going to give them something to be excited about this season.” At 31, Davis is no stranger to training camp and the expectations that come with making the opening-day roster.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that are new to our team,” he said. “They’re doing a great job.”
Of the current 90 players on the roster, only 53 will make the final cut for the regular season.
“They’ve learned the defense, they’ve learned the offense,” said Davis. “Now it’s all about us going out and putting it onto the other end and gelling together as a group.”
After being drafted in the first round in 2005, Davis’s experience with the Panthers has been a roller coaster. From 2009-11, Davis tore the ACL in his right knee three times. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, “one of the most common knee injuries is an anterior cruciate ligament sprain or tear.”
Football players are particularly susceptible to this injury because of the movements the sport demands of the knee. As denoted by the AAOS: “changing direction rapidly, stopping suddenly, slowing down while running, landing from a jump incorrectly, [or] direct contact or collision, such as a football tackle,” may produce a torn ACL.
Tearing an ACL compromises the function of the knee, and a tear often requires surgery in order for the individual to regain range of motion. An ACL tear used to be considered a career-ending injury. Davis’ recovery resulted in 123 tackles and four sacks in 2013, which has given him the confidence to play the 2014 season without a brace.
“As a player, I’m playing every game as if it was my last,” he said. “I don’t take anything for granted.”
With advancements in sports medicine, players like Davis can return to the field and contribute.
“He’s come back from that surgery, and the last couple years have been very solid,” said Panthers head coach Ron Rivera. “I’m excited to see where he could progress going into this year.”
Said Davis: “I’m definitely excited about the opportunity that I have. I’m just trying to make the most of it.”
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