Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis drew the ire of the crowd in Tampa Bay when, during Sunday’s game, he appeared to shoulder-check Buccaneers receiver Russell Shepard after a play was over.
Shepard fell to the ground and the Tampa Bay video board played the hit in slow motion twice, although it did not draw a penalty from the referees. The crowd booed angrily.
After the game, Davis said the hit was not ill-intended and that he was doing his job in coverage against a mobile quarterback on the move by connecting with the receiver. He saw quarterback Jameis Winston on the move, and acted accordingly.
“It wasn’t even a hard hit, a malicious hit,” said Davis. “It wasn’t helmet-to-helmet. ... I talked to him after the game, we talked it out and he understood what I saw. He kind of saw the same thing that I saw. He saw the quarterback look at him. At the end of the day it wasn’t a dirty play.”
Where coach Ron Rivera drew issue was with the video board playing the hit.
“Well, first of all I think that’s bush-league, to show that play up on the screen,” he said. “What are we trying to incite here? Let’s don’t do that. That’s got no place in the NFL, as far as I’m concerned.
“TD did something that, the guy scrambles around and he saw Jameis break through. So at that point you can eliminate receivers. I wish it didn’t happen, but that’s a part of the game. But I really do mean that. I don’t think you put that type of play up on the screen. I don’t think that’s right.”
Davis added, “Yeah, obviously the home team, they’re gonna try to make an issue of it. I talked to the ref about it on the field, and he said it was a ‘nothing play.’ ”