By Ted Fleming
Thomas Davis, LB #58
Hometown: Shellman, GA
College: University of Georgia
Experience: 8 years
He could have walked away from the game and no one would have questioned his motivation, but Thomas Davis wasn’t going to let a few knee surgeries get in the way of him continuing his NFL career.
While many around the league are proclaiming Vikings running back Adrian Peterson to be a miracle of science the way he came back from an ACL/MCL tear late last season to lead the NFL in rushing, Davis’ face should be on a poster in the office of Peterson’s surgeon, because he has done it three times.
A 2005 first round pick, 14th overall, out of Georgia, Davis has played in 11 games this season with eight starts, and to say he is a medical marvel would be an understatement. He has been part of the resurgent Panthers’ defense recording 74 tackles, 48 solo, while forcing a pair of fumbles and recovering one of them.
Davis has been a stabilizing force, playing alongside Luke Kuechly at weak side linebacker after the rookie moved to the middle following the season ending injury to Jon Beason. He has drawn praise from all ends of the football world for being able to play at such a high level after what would have driven a lesser person into retirement. It is the love of the game that drives the 29-yard old from Georgia.
Known for a strong work ethic, Davis has excelled this season and has had three games with at least 10 tackles, including one where he had 16. Don’t let the Panthers overall record fool you; he has been a key cog in the turnaround of a much maligned defense last year into one of the more respected units in 2012.
Under normal circumstances, Davis might be considered a Comeback Player of the Year candidate, but there is one player who will probably run away with the honor–some guy in Denver named Peyton Manning. In the history of the award a linebacker has won it just once – Tedy Bruschi in 2005 – and if it is any consolation, Davis can say he did it thrice without any of the hardware.
In his junior season with the Bulldogs, Davis was selected as a first-team All-SEC selection and a consensus first-team All-American before declaring for the draft. In three seasons at Georgia he recorded 272 tackles, 18 for a loss, 10.5 sacks, three interceptions, six forced fumbles and nine fumble recoveries.
A graduate of Randolph-Clay High School in southwestern Georgia, Davis was not highly recruited because his school had a student body of just 471, but he still received an athletic scholarship to the University of Georgia, the only Division I school to offer one.
For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest Panthers news, see CBS Sports Charlotte.
Ted Fleming is a freelance writer covering all things Carolina Panthers. His work can be found on Examiner.com.