Thomas Davis disputes claims he's a dirty player

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CHARLOTTE – Think you were stressed while the Panthers were struggling Sunday against Tampa Bay? 

Imagine being Thomas Davis stuck on a couch in his living room unable to do a thing about it.

"I'm sitting at home, fourth quarter, we're down, we're putting a drive together," the linebacker recalled Thursday. "It's fourth down, we pick up the first down and then Cam (Newton) fumbled the ball and picked it up and scored. So I'm sitting up sweating just like our fans. I was a fan that day."

That's because Davis was suspended against the Buccaneers for his blindside block on Packers wideout Davante Adams in Week 15. Davis, who apologized to Adams on Twitter and who last week expressed remorse in a video with his wife, Kelly, wasn't in the mood to continue the conversation Thursday.

"I've already talked about the hit. I'm moving on from that," Davis said. "So let's go on to talk about the Falcons."

But he was willing to defend himself from those saying he's a dirty player. 

"It's very unfair. I've seen a lot of stuff that's been said, and obviously people are going to form their own opinions based on what they saw," Davis said. "But at the end of the day, I know for 13 years that I've played this game the right way. I can rest easy on that."

Head coach Ron Rivera remembered, "back in the day, that's a good block," but he also admitted Davis' hit is one the NFL is trying to legislate out of the game.

"Thomas plays through the ball, through the whistle. So he's going to play hard," Rivera said. "He's always in a good hitting position. He never ducks his head, he hits with the front part of his body, he's a physical player, and I just think, unfortunately, when you have a couple of big hits like that and people react to them, some people may (call him dirty).

"Hopefully it's a little bit of a deterrent and he's learned his lesson."

Along with Davis, the Panthers will get Charles Johnson back for this weekend's trip to Atlanta. The defensive end was suspended the past four games for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Johnson, who has no sacks and 13 quarterback pressures in 11 starts this season, declined comment Thursday. But according to Rivera, the 11-year veteran will be placed on the active roster as soon as Friday.

"He's done a terrific job. I watched him specifically yesterday and today just to try to gauge his conditioning. If anything, he looks fresher," Rivera said. "So he's going to get an opportunity to go out and show us where he is and if he's ready to roll. When we get into the playoffs, we want to make sure everybody who's playing is rolling and doing things the right way. And I've got a lot of faith in him."

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