Davis' career should be over, but he refuses to accept a reality that would seem obvious to so many others. When the 29-year-old reports to Panthers training camp on July 27, he will attempt to become the first player in NFL history to come back from three tears to his anterior cruciate ligament.
"I'm just very appreciative of this team to give me the opportunity to come back three times," Davis said Tuesday, via The Associated Press. "I think that is part of the problem with a lot of guys that had torn their knees up three times -- they were never given that opportunity. So I'm extremely appreciative to the Panthers."
It should be noted the Panthers brought Davis back very much on their own terms. Davis restructured his contract, agreeing to forgo an $8 million bonus he was due. He'll play for the veteran minimum salary of $700,000.
Knowing the knee's calamitous history, Carolina has taken extra precautions to protect the linebacker. Davis has had several follow-up MRI examinations, including one earlier this month, after which he said he received a clean bill of health from noted orthopedist Dr. James Andrews. He was held out of team drills during minicamp.
"Everything we're doing right now is designed to make me better, so I'm looking forward to getting out there for training camp," Davis said. "There won't be no holding back then. I want to make sure I'm doing everything in my power to make sure I'm as healthy as possible and ready to go."
The health of his knee isn't Davis' only challenge. First-round draft pick Luke Kuechly has slid into Davis' old starting gig at weakside linebacker, with Jon Beason and James Anderson entrenched at the middle and strongside spots, respectively. The Panthers have already moved on without Davis, but that doesn't mean he's going to give up.