LB Thomas Davis aims to get Chargers 'over the hump'

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  • By Grant Gordon NFL.com
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Donning nothing but black, silver and Panther blue for 14 NFL autumns, linebacker Thomas Davis will find himself pulling another jersey over his head in the fall.

The NFL's third-leading active tackler, Davis signed a two-year, $10.5 million contract with the Los Angeles Chargers, joining a Super Bowl contender to provide a veteran defensive presence and the skills of more than a decade of being a tackling machine.

"It's gonna be crazy, but I'm excited, I'm looking forward to it," Davis said of putting on a different uniform Friday afternoon on NFL Total Access.

Unhinged as the notion may be after all these years to see Davis clad in another uniform, he's excited about what lies ahead. Signing with the Chargers, he joins a team that advanced to the AFC Divisional Round and boasts a laundry list of budding defensive stars. Hence, Davis' decision to sign with the Bolts was one he made quickly as he believes he provides the team the ability to overcome the obstacles that prevented a longer postseason run.

"I just feel like I can come in and be an added piece, offer some veteran wisdom, veteran leadership and just really try to get these guys over the hump," he said, "so I'm looking forward to being a part of this locker room."

While many identify the Chargers with longtime gunslinger Philip Rivers at quarterback and Pro Bowl stud Melvin Gordon at running back, the defense is brimming with talent perhaps finding its prime years ahead of it. Davis might well provide a guiding light -- and again, a lot of tackles -- to the cause.

"I think expectations are high for this team, especially for this defense," Davis said. "I just wanna come in and just do whatever they're gonna ask of me and make sure I do it at a high level and just really looking forward to getting this team over the hump."

Davis' 1,111 combined tackles, according to Pro Football Reference, are third among active players, trailing Derrick Johnson (1,168) and Antoine Bethea (1,223). A trio of Pro Bowls and an All-Pro selection mark Davis' accolades. So he'll fit right in with a cast of defensive all-stars.

Looking forward, Davis can rejoice at the prospect of playing with safety Derwin James, defensive back Desmond King, defensive ends Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram and linebacker Jatavis Brown.

However, looking back, Davis will miss playing alongside Panthers linebacker extraordinaire Luke Kuechly. The linebacking tandem was a terror for the opposition and teammates for seven years.

"I think the biggest thing I'm gonna miss is playing next to Luke Kuechly," Davis said. "That's been a guy, that's been like a brother to me since he's been in Carolina, so I'm definitely gonna miss Luke."

Since news of the Chargers move, Davis said he's played phone tag with Kuechly, but when news of Davis' impending departure from Carolina came to fruition, that proved to be an emotional time.

"When the initial move went down that Carolina made the decision not to bring me back," Davis said, "we talked about it and we both were almost in tears, it was crazy."

For a time, a Davis return at all beyond Charlotte seemed crazy. With retirement seemingly in the cards, Davis did an about-face and he's glad he did.

"It was just the competitive side in me kicked in and understanding and knowing that I still have a lot to offer to this game," Davis said, "and I'm looking forward to going out and showing everybody that doesn't believe that I can still go, what I'm capable of and I'm looking forward to doing it as an L.A. Charger."

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