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Carolina Panthers

Thomas Davis fending off offense and defense


CHARLOTTE -- Cam Newton's shoulder is still on the mend, but his mouth is in midseason form.

The Panthers quarterback, who's two months removed from surgery on the partially torn rotator cuff in his throwing arm, was restricted to conditioning and footwork drills during Tuesday's OTA opener. So with little to do during 11-on-11s and 9-on-9s, he morphed into cheerleader/antagonist.

Any completion, every catch, anything that was a positive for the offense elicited a yell from Newton. And as we've seen throughout the past few training camps, linebacker Thomas Davis had no problem yelling back.

"Hey, that's what Cam does, man. He yaps a lot," Davis said. "Unfortunately, he can't get out there and compete. He's going to be on the sideline the whole time during OTAs."

Which means Newton, who's expected to be full-go for training camp, has two months before he can back up his mostly playful talk with the defense. Davis, meanwhile, has his own guys to worry about.

Worry may not be the right word, but the 34-year-old can hear footsteps from Carolina's younger linebackers, most notably Shaq Thompson. According to Davis' Instagram, he at least saw the headlines generated nationally last week after defensive coordinator Steve Wilks told that Davis' reps will be "cut down" to keep him fresher and get the rising Thompson more snaps.

"I've never been afraid of healthy competition," Davis said. "When you look at the linebacker corps that we have, it's a great problem to have. You want to get everybody playing time because you have guys across the board that can flat out play the game."

Since becoming the first known NFL player to return from three ACL tears on the same knee, Davis has averaged more than 100 tackles and nearly 1,000 snaps over each of his past five seasons. He's also made two straight Pro Bowls after an 11-year wait.

So while he gets why the Panthers need to get Thompson on the field more, Davis isn't conceding anything yet. Plus, the defense needs his mouth to counter Newton's for the next three months.

"My goal is to take advantage of each and every opportunity that the coaching staff gives me, whether it's 100 percent, whether it's 50 percent, whether it's 80 percent," Davis said. "Whatever it is, I need to be the best me that I can be when I'm on the field."

View photos from the first week of Carolina's organized team activities.

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