The Thomas Davis Loss is Bad, But Not Devastating for the Panthers

Rick WeaverCorrespondent IJune 11, 2010

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 03:  Jon Beason #52 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates after tackle against the New Orleans Saints during their game at Bank of America Stadium on January 3, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Just a few months ago, the Carolina Panthers made a surprise deal. The team decided to trade one of their two main defensive leaders—safety Chris Harris—to the Chicago Bears

The deal is now starting to look as if it may turn out to be more than just another money-slashing gesture for the financial "belt-tightening" Panthers

The Panthers seemed prepared to just release Harris, but Chicago wanted Harris back and the way to lock him in was to setup a trade and the deal was done.  Chicago got their former starting safety back and the Panthers got a reserve linebacker and possible special teams player. 

An even trade or not?

At the time, Jamar Williams seemed to basically be a "throw-in" player or just part of the deal.  However, Williams may turn out to be an integral part of the Panthers 2010 defensive unit. 

The speedy and formerly undersized Williams, was originally drafted in the fourth round of the 2006 draft by the Chicago Bears.  The Bears drafted Williams to shore up their linebacking squad as the team's starting outside linebacker, Lance Briggs, was upset,  demanding a trade, and refusing to play. 

Just as soon as the new, somewhat bulked-up and game-ready Williams thought he might get the starting nod, Briggs signed a new long-term deal. That deal put Williams' career and dreams on hold and placed him on the shelf. 

Except for spot duty, Williams did not see much action during his tenure with the Bears.  That is understandable as Williams was playing behind a five-time Pro-Bowler in Briggs and it was not as if he was challenging Briggs for the position, or was he?

Finally, when Briggs missed one game late last season Williams was called into duty.  He made the most of his opportunity.  Willliams led both teams in tackles that day.

The truly amazing statistic associated with that Week 13 start last season by Jamar Williams, was the fact that his total number of tackles for that one game (18) happens to be more tackles posted in one game than Briggs had ever posted during his entire stellar career. 

Needless to say, Briggs was well and back on the field the following week.

How has Williams been doing since he got to Carolina? 

Well, former Panthers safety Chris Harris has already "blessed" the move and truly believes Williams has a lot to offer his new team in Carolina.  During Williams' rookie season in Chicago, he and his former teammate, Harris, became friends.  

When OTAs first began, before Davis re-injured his knee, Williams had been taking first-team reps in Davis' weakside position. So, the situation is not overwhelming for Williams.

Williams has impressed some of the right people, so far, in Carolina.  Jon Beason said of Williams,  "He's a leader, he's accountable, and he's making a lot of plays." 

Now that has to be taken in context because there has been no live hitting so far.  But that bodes well for Williams.  Beason also smilingly noted, "He (Williams) looks great in shorts. Now we'll get a chance to see how he looks in pads."

No Panthers fan wanted to hear the injuries had begun before training camp even started.  The truth is, if this injury could be the only one of this magnitude the team suffers, the hole the Panthers now seem to find themselves in may not be quite as deep as many think. 

While Davis was on his way to a probable Pro Bowl last season before his injury, there was always the chance the surgery could fail at any time this season and the team would need to find help.  It seems Fox and Hurney thought about that scenario in April, when it was time to let Chris Harris go. 

While nobody wanted to see Davis not make it back this season, the fact remains, the football world is now Williams' oyster.  Whether or not Williams finds the pearl is totally up to him.  He has already shown he has the tools, the skills, and the work ethic to get it done.

The question now is: Will Williams shine this season?


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