Inside the Panthers

Is that creaking the sound of the Super Bowl window closing for Panthers’ older players?

For outside linebacker Thomas Davis (58) and other aging Carolina Panthers, the window for another Super Bowl trip could be closing.
For outside linebacker Thomas Davis (58) and other aging Carolina Panthers, the window for another Super Bowl trip could be closing. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis took a GoPro with him nearly everywhere he went during the week of Super Bowl 50, hoping to both soak up and preserve the experience.

Watching that video footage likely will be as close as Davis gets to the postseason this year.

The Panthers’ 4-8 slog of a season has been unpleasant for everyone in the organization. But for Davis and the other older players on the roster, it’s a reminder that their window for returning to the Super Bowl is closing.

“You definitely never know when that opportunity’s going to come again, if it’s going to come again,” Davis said Thursday. “As a group, we know we’re going to work as hard as we can to make sure we’re back at that point we were as a football team.”

Backup quarterback Derek Anderson played more than a decade before making it to the Super Bowl. With the reigning league MVP in Cam Newton and a solid nucleus around him, Anderson liked the Panthers’ chances of getting back.

It hasn’t happened that way.

“You’re 33 and you’re on a team that’s just been to the Super Bowl, obviously you don’t know when that is ever going to happen again,” Anderson said. “It took 11 years to get there. It took me seven to get to the playoffs. You get there and it’s like, now let’s do it again.”

Anderson and Davis, who’s also 33, are both under contract for next season.

That’s not the case for defensive end Charles Johnson, who took a huge pay cut and a one-year deal after the Panthers cut him last offseason. Johnson, 30, wants to play at least one more season.

“Yeah, of course,” Johnson said. “Hopefully it’s here.”

Johnson and the other aging players hope they haven’t seen their final Super Bowl as players.

“It’s frustrating because for me, for some of the older guys, who knows?” Anderson said. “We’re all getting older and we want to maximize the most of your opportunities.”

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