Stephen Davis never found his niche last season in Steve Spurrier’s pass-happy offense.
Now Davis will be looking to show off for the Washington Redskins coach— provided his sprained ankle allows him to.
Davis hopes to return to action and continue his re-emergence as one of the NFL’s premier running backs as his Carolina Panthers host the Redskins at Ericsson Stadium.
Davis spent his first seven seasons in Washington, where he became the Redskins’ No. 3 all-time rusher with 5,790 yards, and the only player in team history to run for 1,000 yards in three straight seasons.
However, he was released after gaining just 820 yards on 207 carries last season, Spurrier’s first with the Redskins. Davis criticized his coach during the season for not running the ball enough, and has not been shy about expressing his animosity toward Washington since coming to Carolina.
Davis faced his former team once during the preseason in his first game with Carolina, gaining 74 yards on seven carries.
His first play was a 13-yard catch in front of the Washington bench.
“People got their own opinions,” Davis said of Spurrier after that game. “It felt good. It felt great. I went about it like I was playing anybody, and did I make a statement? Yeah. And I’ll make a bigger statement in the regular season.”
This time, however, Davis might not be at full strength to show the Redskins they made a mistake. He missed Sunday’s 27-24 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the bad ankle, but is listed as probable for this weekend.
The Panthers have not been clear about when Davis was hurt and have not said which ankle it is, citing league rules that allow them not to disclose the information.
“When we evaluate our players medically, we will do what is right for the long term,” coach John Fox said. “If we deem he can’t play, he won’t play.”
Davis missed four games and parts of two others last season with knee and shoulder injuries.
Delhomme, who came in averaging 174.3 passing yards per game in the Panthers’ run-oriented offense, finished 20-of-32 for 277 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
“We want to be known as a running team, and that’s great,” Delhomme said. “But when the opportunity to throw the ball comes up, we’re going to make plays.”
Davis’ backup, DeShaun Foster, ran for 56 yards on 22 carries.
The Redskins snapped a four-game losing streak with a 27-20 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.
Spurrier handed over most of the offensive play-calling to offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, who also gave the team a motivational speech the day before.
“Maybe I’m struggling calling plays right now. Shoot, it’s not working as well as it should,” Spurrier said. “He asked to do it this week and I said OK. … If I have to bench the play-caller, then I can do that. I benched myself a little bit.”
Spurrier also decided to run the ball on 4th-and-inches from the Redskins’ 25 on the decisive drive.
“When you’ve lost four in a row,” Spurrier said, “you don’t have to play too conservatively or too careful.”
Spurrier said that Jackson will continue to call plays until further notice.
Patrick Ramsey went 17-for-32 for 232 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions against Seattle. He wasn’t sacked for the first time this season. However, the Seahawks weren’t able to generate much of a pass rush.
“We expect a lot stronger rush this week from Carolina,” Spurrier said.
Rock Cartwright, normally a fullback, ran for a career-high 81 yards on 13 carries and may start at tailback against the Panthers. Cartwright has been playing both fullback and tailback because of injuries.
Defensive end Bruce Smith had a sack against the Seahawks and needs one more to break Reggie White’s NFL record of 198.
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