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Five Things To Know About Linebacker Thomas Davis Sr.


According to reports, veteran linebacker Thomas Davis Sr. is set to join the Redskins on a multi-year deal.

Davis is a 14-year NFL veteran who played for head coach Ron Rivera in Carolina from 2011-2018 and made three Pro Bowls (2013-15) during that stretch. He also was the 2014 recipient of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.

Last season, Davis started all 16 games for the Los Angeles Chargers last season and recorded 112 total tackles, which would have been second-most on the Redskins behind safety Landon Collins in 2019.

The Redskins could opt to use him as the weak side linebacker in their new 4-3 scheme, with Cole Holcomb playing on the strong side and Jon Bostic playing in the middle.

Here are five things to know about Davis:

1. Davis is one of the most accomplished active linebackers in the NFL.

Look up career defensive statistics among active linebackers, and you're sure to find Davis either at or near the top of the list.

Per Pro Football Reference, Davis is first with 1,210 combined tackles (second among active players), 854 solo tackles (third among active players) and 54 passes defensed and second with 13 interceptions and 18 forced fumbles. He's also the only active linebacker with 25 or more sacks and 10 or more interceptions.

In 14 seasons with the Panthers, he became the franchise's all-time leading tackler (combined and solo) while finishing second in tackles for loss (87), fourth in pass breakups (52), tied for seventh in interceptions (13) and eighth in sacks (28.0).

2. Davis is only defensive player still active from the 2005 NFL Draft.

Davis' initially said in an interview that he planned to retire after the 2018 season, but his stance shifted once he was suspended for the first four games. All of the sudden, he became "very open" to playing beyond 2018.

Following his release from the Panthers, he signed a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Chargers and recorded a team-high 112 tackles, which was his seventh season with at least 100. And despite being let go by the Chargers, Davis seems to have found a new home with his old head coach.

Davis, who turns 37 years old on Sunday, is one of eight active players from the 2005 NFL Draft and the only defensive player. The others are quarterbacks Alex Smith (Redskins) and Aaron Rodgers (Packers) and Ryan Fitzpatrick, (Dolphins), running back Frank Gore (Bills), offensive lineman Richie Incognito (Raiders), punter Dustin Colquitt (Chiefs) and Mike Nugent (free agent).

Davis, who was picked 14th overall that year, was also part of the same draft class as current Redskins defensive backs coach Chris Harris, who was selected in the sixth round as a cornerback.

3. Davis is believed to be the only professional athlete to overcome three anterior cruciate ligament tears in the same knee.

Re-read the first two points summarizing what Davis has accomplished over his career. Then realize the majority of that production came after tearing the ACL in his right knee three separate times.

The initial injury occurred during the middle of the 2009 season and ended a streak of 39 consecutive starts. About seven months later, he suffered the same injury during the second day of minicamp. And after finally returning to the field for the 2011 regular season opener, Davis played just one full game before going down with another torn ACL, his third in 23 months.

Davis thought about quitting, but that only lasted a few hours. He showed up to practice the next morning, ready to embark on yet another road to recovery.

In the eight seasons since his third ACL tear, Davis has missed just three games because of injury. He's made three Pro Bowls (2013-15), earned second-team All-Pro (2013) and was a first-team All-Pro in 2015. He's eclipsed the 100-tackle mark six times and has been a team captain on several occasions.

After nearly walking away, Davis turned himself into one of the most respected linebackers in the NFL.

4. Davis' off-field contributions match his on-field production.

Davis is not just a tackling machine and a proven leader; he's a philanthropist and a servicemen, constantly trying to improve the lives of others.

He and his wife, Kelly, launched the Thomas Davis Defending Dreams Foundation, a non-profit organization that works to "educate, empower and defend the dreams of more than 1,200 families each year," according to its website. Annual programs include a book bag drive, a Thanksgiving Dinner of Hope, a Christmas Toy Drive and the Thomas Davis Youth Football Camp.

There's also the Thomas Davis Youth Leadership Academy, which houses 25-30 students each week from October to March to learn about a variety of skills, including public speaking, writing, debate, critical thinking and conflict/resolution skills

The NFL and the Panthers have recognized Davis for his community efforts. On four occasions, Davis has been the Panthers' nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, which annually recognizes a player for his volunteer and charity work.

And after being named a finalist in 2013, Davis won the award a year later.

"Just knowing the struggles of some parents. I grew up in a single-parent household, and my mom struggled to raise me and my sister, and I didn't want these kids to go through what we had to go through," Davis said after earning the distinction. "I tried to reach out and give back to them as much as I can to make sure that those kids don't go through those struggle."

5. Davis expects a "complete culture change" under Rivera and believes the Redskins will be "competitive immediately."

Davis knows Rivera better than a lot of people. He played for him for eight seasons, starting 104 games over that stretch. He was with him for the early struggles and the three straight NFC South titles, the 15-1 record and the aSuper Bowl appearance. He stuck with him as the Panthers attempted to return to the sport's biggest stage.

During an appearance on NFL Total Access in February, Thomas gave his assessment of the Redskins' hire of his former head coach. It was overwhelmingly positive.

"I expect a complete culture change," Davis said. "I expect that team to go in and be competitive immediately."

A month later, Thomas reportedly agreed to terms to join the Redskins. It seems like they'll tackle this turnaround together.

"I think Coach Rivera definitely connects to the players on a one-on-one level," Davis said. "He knows how to reach players exactly where they are, and he knows how to get the most out of them. He's done a great job of that in Carolina, and I don't expect that to be any different in Washington."

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