SPARTANBURG, S.C. – It's not his ideal start to training camp, but Thomas Davis isn't about to complain.
After three anterior cruciate ligament injuries to his right knee in less than two years, the Panthers linebacker can handle missing a few days of practice with a hamstring strain.
"I could be better. I'm dealing with a hamstring issue right now, but it's definitely getting better," Davis said. "I'm excited to be out there with everybody."
Despite the hamstring injury, which occurred during the offseason conditioning program, Davis says this is the best he's felt in quite a while.
"Ten times better than I did coming into camp last year," Davis said. "I talked earlier this offseason about how good I was feeling, and nothing has really changed, other than this hamstring.
"My knees feel great. I'm excited to get on the field and actually practice."
Davis is hoping to return to full action and re-join his fellow linebackers on Thursday. His excitement about that unit – and the eventual return of good friend Jon Beason – can't be overstated.
"We have a great group of men. We've done a great job of coming together as a corps, and everybody buying into our scheme. We believe in each other," Davis said. "When you get all of us on the field at the same time, there aren't going to be enough tackles to go around."
BLACKBURN ASSERTING HIMSELF: With Davis and Beason unavailable, linebacker Chase Blackburn has taken advantage of the available reps.
The former New York Giant – who was brought to Carolina to provide depth at all three linebacker positions – is working with the first team during team drills.
"You just never know. I've kind of been in this situation most of my career," Blackburn said. "I play all three spots, and that's my value. It's been good. Reps are good."
With two Super Bowl rings, Blackburn has the respect of his peers and he is already helping fellow veterans lead by holding teammates and himself accountable.
"They know I'm not picking on them, and I'm the first one to admit – today was not my best practice," Blackburn said. "I was a little sluggish, my legs weren't under me at times, and I didn't run to the ball as well. But I tell guys that's what we need to do. We have to complete every play."