Davis won't wear protective gear

Updated: October 15, 2003, 6:39 PM ET
Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina running back Stephen Davis scoffed at any notion Wednesday that his bruised right forearm will prevent him from playing against Tennessee this week.

Listed as probable on the injury report, Davis said he's certain he'll play Sunday when Carolina (5-0) hosts the Titans (4-2).

"Yeah, I'll play," Davis said, rolling his eyes. "There's not a doubt in my mind I'll be out there."

Davis, ranked second in the NFC in rushing with 641 yards, missed most of the second half of Carolina's win over Indianapolis last week after sustaining a deep bruise in his forearm. The pain made it difficult to hold the ball, which Davis said contributed to his third-quarter fumble.

He did not carry the ball again after the fumble, but finished with 76 yards on 15 carries with a touchdown. It was a season-low performance after Davis had rushed for at least 100 yards in each of his first four games with the Panthers.

He said the bruise in his arm was still tender Wednesday, but he had no plans to take any special precautions during the game against the Titans.

"I'm not going to wear anything," he said. "I'm just going to go out there and run and try to be tough."

Davis has been receiving several different forms of treatment this week, from heat to ice to massages. But if he's not 100 percent by game time, the Panthers aren't worried because of backup DeShaun Foster's continued emergence.

Foster has been brought along slowly since missing his rookie season with a knee injury, but had a breakout game last week by rushing for a career-high 85 yards in relief of Davis. He also had two catches for 54 yards.

"I think when you run the ball, you have to have some depth at that position," coach John Fox said. "It is a violent game and it takes its toll on those guys. When you are able to keep them fresh and have quality there, it just helps you."

Fox has refused to speculate on how he will use both of his backs, or how the carries will be divided. But if Davis is concerned about Foster cutting into his playing time, he's not letting on.

"There's enough for both of us. Plenty to go around," Davis said. "I was proud of what DeShaun did against the Colts. Everybody just needs to get an opportunity. The more opportunity he gets, the better he's going to get."

The Panthers are averaging 40 carries per game over the past four games. In comparison, Carolina has never averaged more than 32 carries per game in a season.

It's paying off in production, too. Carolina's running game ranks second in the NFL averaging 172 yards on the ground and is on paced to shatter the team record of 110.6 per game set in 1997.


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press