Every NFL linebacker I’ve spent time with claims he could have played running back in the NFL. Defensive backs sometimes make the same claim. Somewhere, a long snapper probably does. I’ve never asked J.J. Jansen, Carolina’s fine long snapper, if he could.
Jon Beason, the former Panthers’ linebacker who had been a big-time fullback, said he could have been a star running back. Shaq Thompson was a star running back at Washington. But the player who should be voted Linebacker I Least Want to Tackle When he’s Running with a Football is Carolina’s Thomas Davis.
Davis returned a fumble 46 yards against Arizona Sunday for his first touchdown. And even if the fumble wasn’t real (it was a pass), Davis’s touchdown was. This is his 12th season, and the touchdown was his first. Davis was entitled.
Davis’ athleticism, speed and instincts offer him credibility other potential running backs lack. When DeAngelo Williams, a real Panthers’ running back, was a rookie 10 seasons ago, he talked about getting run down by a linebacker. He was incredulous. Then he said, “Oh, it was Thomas Davis.” Willliams invoked Davis’ name as if it explained everything. It did.