It remains to be seen if Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis can come all the way back after tearing his ACL for the third time. But it sure sounds like Davis’ confidence is already at full strength.
Davis, a University of Georgia product, was in Athens on Tuesday night speaking to the Touchdown Club of Athens and he made some strong statements about how he expects the Panthers to fare this season.
“I am looking forward to playing the full 19-game season and winning the Super Bowl,’’ Davis said.
Those are very lofty goals for a linebacker who has appeared in just nine games since the start of the 2009 season and a franchise that’s won eight games over the last two years. But Davis made reference to the Panthers going to the Super Bowl several times.
“I see us finishing our season in New Orleans and I don’t mean playing the New Orleans Saints,’’ Davis said. “I’m looking forward to getting a healthy team back together and everyone gelling. I think that we can make a strong push to the playoffs and possibly to the Super Bowl.”
Davis’ expectations might not be as ridiculous as they sound. With rookie quarterback Cam Newton leading the way, the Panthers developed an explosive offense last season. That side of the ball should only get better with Newton having a full offseason program for the first time. The Panthers were 6-10 last year and the story of their season was their inability to protect leads late in games.
The defense, which was devastated by injuries, struggled mightily. The Panthers haven’t done much on defense in free agency, but Davis said he expects major improvement on that side of the ball.
“I know that me being out there will definitely make a difference,’’ Davis said. “Not just myself but Jon Beason, Ron Edwards to name a few guys that got injured that would have made a world of difference for our defense. We are moving in the right direction and are excited about this season.”
Davis has a point. He and Beason have been top-notch linebackers in the past. Edwards was brought in as a free agent last year and the hope was he would solidify the middle of the defensive line. That didn’t work out as Edwards was injured early in the preseason. Davis and Beason went down early in the regular season.
Plug those three back into the lineup. That’s like adding three major free agents to Carolina’s defense. If they all can stay healthy, Davis’ goals might not be so far fetched.