Panthers Lack of Depth at Linebacker is Glaring, with Injury to Thomas Davis

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 17: Thomas Davis #58 of the Carolina Panthers gets ready on the field during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 17, 2006 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Steelers defeated the Panthers 37-3. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

What happened last week, was probably one of the last things any of us wanted to hear. At the same time, when it occurred, it was almost expected.

As everyone knows by now, linebacker Thomas Davis screwed up his ACL during a non-contact drill in OTA’s last week, which is bad enough. Even worse, it was the same knee and ACL he injured in November of 2009 and  had surgically reconstructed during the offseason.

He’s pushed himself throughout the recovery process, which is admirable. However, it’s also reckless. As fans, we know what Davis is capable of when healthy. The coaching staff also knows what he’s capable of when healthy, as he was leading the defense at the beginning of the season in 2009 with tackles and interceptions.

The fear among some, is that with Davis’ injury, it shows the inexperience at the linebacker position.

Micro-analyzing, it shows a lack of experience from a year ago, when the starting linebackers and reserves had 400 games-worth of experience among the players at the position, cutting down to only 281 games of experience right now.

To me, that’s a bit excessive to go and look at it that way, and it also tells me that it’s not that bad, either. Let’s just take the three starting linebackers. I’ll say James Anderson, Jon Beason, and Jamar Williams…”Three-J’s.”

Those are three players with plenty of experience. No worry in my mind.

Take out James Anderson and put in Dan Connor. Yeah, you lose a little experience, but you gain youth, speed, and strength.

Put Anderson in and take out Williams, so you have Beason, Anderson, and Connor. You still have a viable linebacking core. Again, experience doesn’t bother me.

You know what? You have one day to be a rookie out here. You get that one-day grace period and other than that you get the same information. It’s a new unit but we have guys with experience. –Linebacker Jon Beason on the lack of trusted reserves.

Depth — or lack thereof — is the bigger issue.

The linebacker position is thin once again. The thing for the Panthers’ front office to do, is start looking into available free agents.

A couple of experienced veteran players currently on other teams’ rosters which come to mind are Keith Bulluck of the Tennessee Titans and Leroy Hill of the Seattle Seahawks.

Go find ‘em, Carolina. We have experience. We need depth.

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