5 best individual performances in Carolina Panthers history

(Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports) Cam Newton
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Carolina Panthers
(Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) Thomas Davis /

Thomas Davis – Former Carolina Panthers LB

  • September 9, 2012 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Although this game doesn’t come close to his best statistically, Thomas Davis still managed to accomplish something no other professional athlete had before or since.

In the Carolina Panthers’ 2012 season opener at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Davis became the first known player to successfully return to the active lineup after suffering three torn ACLs on the same knee.

The Panthers drafted the linebacker out of Georgia at No. 14 overall in the 2005 NFL Draft and Davis quickly proved he belonged in the NFL.

After four productive years, Davis suffered his first ACL tear on November 10, 2009 against the New Orleans Saints. The following season, he re-injured the same knee on a non-contact play in minicamp and in 2011 tore it again vs. the Green Bay Packers in Week 2.

Davis vowed to return and was arguably even better when he did.

The All-Pro only played 12 snaps and had three tackles in his return. But he’d go on to play eight additional seasons, make three Pro Bowls, and become the 2014 Walter Payton Man of the Year.

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This is a testament to the fighting spirit Davis brought on the field and within the locker room. He recently retired as a Panther on the same day as Greg Olsen, which was one of the more emotional occasions in franchise history and something both players richly deserved.