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Carolina Panthers' Thomas Davis to play vs. Jets

Tucked away in the injury notes for this week's slate of preseason games: the return of Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis.

Coach Ron Rivera announced that Davis would start Sunday's game against the New York Jets, Joe Person of The Charlotte Observer reported Friday.

Davis has endured three reconstructive knee surgeries during his six seasons in Carolina. He's started only nine games over the past two years, but returned to practice with the team this week after coming off a strained calf injury. Davis has started 56 games for this team, but is fighting for a roster spot under a new coaching staff that didn't play a role in drafting him.

Linebacker Jon Beason and his tweaked hamstring won't play against the Jets and neither will Cam Newton's top target, Steve Smith, who suffered a foot infection last weekend and was seen on crutches Friday. The veteran receiver has been treated with antibiotics and Rivera said Smith would be ruled out if this were a regular-season game.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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