CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Panthers running back Mike Davis said the key to his success this season has been that he “runs angry.”
Carolina is 3-0 with Davis as Christian McCaffrey's temporary replacement. Davis has reason to be even angrier today when he faces his former team, the Chicago Bears.
The Bears released Davis last November, in part because they felt he didn't fit the offensive system and because they'd get a compensatory draft pick. The Bears ended up using that pick, No. 140 overall, to acquire quarterback Nick Foles in a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
But Davis said he's not using the snub as motivation.
“I don't think it's a bad thing to run angry,” Davis said. “I'm going to always do that. The emotions, don't try to make the game bigger than it is. Be me. Don't go out there and make stupid penalties that affect the team.”
The Panthers are on a roll, beating the Chargers, Cardinals and Falcons in succession to rebound from an 0-2 start.
Davis has been a big part of that turnaround.
Since McCaffrey went on injured reserve, Davis has racked up 351 yards from scrimmage and scored three touchdowns in three starts. McCaffrey could return next week, but for now Davis will continue to carry the load.
“I think he's running with tremendous physicality,” Panthers coach Matt Rhule said. “He's not getting tackled by the first tackler. I think we found some runs that he feels really comfortable with and I think there's just great second effort, great yards after contact. That's the mark of a good back.”
The Panthers could be without three starters on the defensive line: two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kawann Short (shoulder) and edge rushers Brian Burns (concussion) and Yetur Gross-Matos (ankle). Carolina is 29th in the league in sacks and is 30th in third down defense.
The Bears joined seven other teams with three wins in the first five games after trailing by 10 or more, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, when they beat Tampa Bay last week. Chicago trailed 13-0 in the first half on the way to a 20-19 victory. The Bears also staged big fourth-quarter comebacks in the first and third games.
The offense has been a sticking point so far. The Bears switched quarterbacks and the results have been underwhelming.
“The players truly understand what our standards are here, with this offense and obviously you look at the lack of production right now and the lack of scoring and where we're at,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said. “We know. We're trying to figure out the answers of where things are and how we can get better and score more points and be more productive to make it easier on our defense.”