Steve Smith won't get special treatment from Panthers

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Will Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis pick up Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith off the ground if -- and it's still a big "if" that Davis will play because of a hamstring injury -- he tackles his former teammate on Sunday?

"No!" Davis said emphatically on Thursday. "I'll talk to him after the game."

And no, it wasn't Davis who picked up former Carolina wide receiver Brandon LaFell after tackling him in a preseason game against New England. That was middle linebacker Luke Kuechly.

Will Kuechly do the same if he tackles Smith?

"Nah!" he said. "That was preseason."

Kuechly almost assuredly will get a shot at Smith. He leads the team in tackles with 32 and is used a lot in pass coverage while the front four pressures the quarterback.

Davis hopes to get a shot at Carolina's all-time leading receiver, who was released in March. But the hamstring he pulled chasing Pittsburgh's LeGarrette Blount during a 50-yard run in Sunday night's 37-19 loss remains an issue.

The good news is Davis was on the field Thursday, a day earlier than coach Ron Rivera anticipated. But as the Panthers have seen with hamstring injuries the past two weeks with running back DeAngelo Williams, they aren't easily overcome.

"Definitely a good sign, a positive sign," Davis said of Thursday's limited participation. "But at the end of the day it's all about being out there on Sunday. That's what I'm working for."

Nobody arguably has worked harder to overcome injuries than Davis. In 2012, he became the first player in NFL history to return from ACL surgery on the same knee three times.

And nobody arguably wants to face Smith more than Davis, who remains close to the 35-year-old receiver.

"It's definitely going to be weird lining up against him," Davis said. "I'm looking forward to trying to get there. That's my main goal."

If Davis plays, he won't take it easy on Smith if the opportunity presents itself.

"I'm going to do my job," Davis said. "Steve fully understands that. I expect him to do his job when he gets an opportunity at me."

Smith said during a Wednesday conference call with reporters in Charlotte that he and Davis often talk and exchange jokes via text messages. He said their wives recently had dinner together.

"We have a good relationship," Davis said. "We talk trash a lot. When he was here, we talked a lot of trash. Ain't nothing changed now that he's gone."

Except for one thing.

Davis would pick Smith up if he knocked him down in practice. He won't do that Sunday.