CHARLOTTE – Is this the year linebacker Thomas Davis makes it to the Pro Bowl?
The question is asked, and Davis laughs while shaking his head.
"I'm always the No. 1 or No. 2 snub every year," Davis said. "That's OK."
Davis is unequivocally deserving of the recognition. He has been for some time now.
After tearing his right anterior cruciate ligament for the third consecutive year in 2011, he's been one of the best linebackers in the NFL. He recorded over 100 tackles each of the last three seasons as the vocal leader of a top-10 defense for three years running.
This season, Davis leads the Panthers with 57 tackles. He's also posted two sacks, two interceptions and one forced fumble.
Is he playing the best football of his 11-year career?
"I don't know," Davis said. "I'm just excited about where I'm at right now.
"I feel like I'm playing at a high level, and I feel like I've been playing at a high level since I came back from injury."
Head coach Ron Rivera completely agrees.
"Honestly, he's been playing at this level since he came back from the last surgery," Rivera said. "He's done a lot of good things, not just on the field, but off the field, which you guys all know about."
Davis, the recipient of the 2014 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, knows it's an uphill battle for 4-3 outside linebackers to make it to the Pro Bowl against 3-4 outside linebackers who frequently rush the passer.
"You know what, it's just different," Davis said. "This league is about the big plays and guys making sacks, especially at my position when it comes to Pro Bowl votes."
But ask any coach around the league to rattle off some of the top outside linebackers, and it's a safe bet Davis' name will be mentioned quickly.
Davis wants to be a Pro Bowler. What competitive player wouldn't? But it's not something he's thinking about. The five-time team captain has an undefeated team to lead.
"I can't get caught up in that stuff because at the end of the day it's not up to me," Davis said. "I'm doing what I need to do to put myself in position to be recognized by going out and doing my job, doing whatever I can to help this team win."
Readers can vote for Davis, or any other player, as many times as they'd like by filling out the 2015 Pro Bowl ballot.