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Third Times a Charm? Carolina Panthers Lose Linebacker Thomas Davis for Season

Evan HigginsCorrespondent IIJune 10, 2010

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 14:  Linebacker Thomas Davis #58 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates a fourth down stop in the final minutes of their 20-17 win over the Chicago Bears at Bank of America Stadium on September 14, 2008 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

For a second straight season, the Carolina Panthers will be without rising star linebacker Thomas Davis with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. The injury is the second one in the past seven months for Davis.

The severity of the injury was revealed Wednesday, after he tweaked the same knee he injured in '09 in practice Tuesday. 

He was injured during week seven against New Orleans in 2009 with the same injury, as he buckled his knee while backpedaling. He was going on to have a superb season, collecting 71 tackles, 1 1/2 sacks, and two interceptions.    

While he has had a speedy recovery, he chose to not wear a brace on Tuesday's practice, and fell to the turf on his injured knee, almost identical to how he did last season. 

Following his injury, Davis signed his one-year, $3.268 million tender as a restricted free agent.

Some question whether Davis was rushed back to get onto the football field, and Panthers general manager Marty Hurney responded by saying, "Obviously questions like that are asked when something like this happens, but it was the normal rehab procedure we've done with other people. Even Thomas said he had felt very good about how the knee felt."

Davis' agent Todd France indicated that he would get surgery either sometime this weekend or next week. Although it has not been determined who will do the procedure.

The Panthers will wait to put him on IR, although it's more than likely he will miss all of 2010.

With Davis out, the Panthers will either replace him with one of their reserves, or look into free agency to sign a veteran. 

The Panthers already have so many questions surrounding their defense, its tough to see one of their top players go down. 

If Carolina chooses not to bring in a veteran, it looks like Dan Connor and James Anderson will be the starting outside linebackers, with rookie Eric Norwood and recently-acquired Jamar Williams rotating into the lineup as well. 

Lucky for Carolina, if they do opt to bring in a veteran, there is a lot of talent out there to choose from via free agency.

Longtime Titan Keith Bulluck is recovering from a severe knee injury, and is close to being fully recovered. He could be on the Panthers' radar, as he would surely improve their defense and help inside the locker room. 

Adalius Thomas is another free agent linebacker available, as he was recently released from New England and is still looking for a job. He would bring in a pass-rushing linebacker, something the Panthers have lacked for many years. 

Although i'm not sure Carolina will bring in a veteran, as they have gotten rid of all but three players over the age of 30 this offseason. Expect the team to stick with the players they currently have at that position. 

It's sad to see a player like Davis go down, as the Panthers only have so much talent on defense. Hopefully he will fully recover over the next year, and he can get a long-term contract with Carolina. 

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