With so much bad news coming from the Carolina Panthers' camp these days, it's refreshing to finally see something positive:
Thomas Davis is back, baby!
Davis returned to action this year to become the first known NFL player to overcome three torn ACLs to the same knee, injuries that cost him the last half of the 2009 season, all of 2010, and most of 2011.
Not only has a healthy Davis returned in 2012, he has looked downright spectacular for most of the Panthers' last five games, culminating with his 16-tackle breakout in Week 11 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Stepping It Up Since the Bye
Davis began the season slowly. He needed to prove his knee was healthy and the Panthers already featured one of the NFL's deepest linebacker corps with Jon Beason, James Anderson, and rookie first rounder Luke Kuechly.
Going into the Panthers' Week 6 bye Davis had recorded just 15 tackles in the Panthers' first five games.
But after a Week 4 injury to Beason, Davis was thrust into a more prominent role as the Panthers organization held its breath to see if his knee would hold up.
In Week 7 against the Dallas Cowboys Davis responded by recording 10 tackles and forcing a fumble. It was Beason's first double-digit tackle performance since September 2009.
Davis then racked up five tackles against the Chicago Bears, nine against the Washington Redskins, and four against the Denver Broncos in Week 10.
Including his 16 tackles in Week 11, Davis has averaged nearly nine tackles over his last five games.
The Buccaneer Breakout
The 16 tackles Thomas Davis recorded against Tampa Bay tied his career high set in 2009.
Davis was seemingly everywhere against the Bucs, looking like the younger, healthier version of himself who racked up 114 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 2008, his last full season.
He was also prominently involved in two of the game's biggest plays, both of which took place in the fourth quarter.
With 10:40 remaining in the fourth, Davis forced a Doug Martin fumble just inches before Martin crossed the goal line. The Panthers recovered the fumble and kept a Tampa Bay touchdown off the board.
The second major play involving Thomas Davis happened with less than a minute left in the game. As I have previously written, Davis made what appeared to be a legal - though jarring - hit on Bucs' receiver Tiquan Underwood, forcing Underwood to drop the ball shortly after the big hit.
Unfortunately for Davis and the Panthers, the officials ruled the play a catch instead of a drop and also assessed a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty on Davis for his fearsome hit. The rulings definitely helped the Bucs score the game-tying points to force overtime in an eventual 27-21 Tampa Bay victory.
The bad news for the Panthers in Week 11 is that they invented yet another way to lose in gut-wrenching style.
The good news for the Panthers from Week 11 is that Thomas Davis is back.
And sometimes it's nice to get a little good news.
Andrew Sweat is a die-hard Panthers fan. For more from this author, visit Andrew's archive or check out these articles: