Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis has long been one of the NFL’s most underappreciated players, failing to earn a single Pro Bowl selection despite years of high-level production.

Around NFL coaching circles, however, Davis is held up as a paragon of linebacking excellence.


When Davis stopped elusive Eagles scat back Darren Sproles for a one-yard loss in the open field last week, the textbook tackle prompted a fellow NFL coach to call defensive coordinator Sean McDermott to praise the fundamentals of Carolina’s defense.

“I had a coach call me this morning and say I’m showing my guys that play,” McDermott on Monday afternoon, via the Charlotte Observer. “That is awesome fundamentals. It’s a lost art. To make that tackle in space, with nobody else around, and a back of Sproles’ quality, I think is phenomenal fundamentals and it’s a leader leading by example.”

McDermott would not reveal the identity of the coach or his team affiliation.

The Panthers have now won 10 consecutive regular-season games. Davis, McDermott and head coach Ron Rivera deserve more credit than they have received for maintaining a stout defense despite a turnover in personnel from the 2013 squad that ranked second only to the Seahawks in total defense.

In Davis, 2013 Defensive Player of the Year Luke Kuechly, quarter-season All Pro cornerback Josh Norman and breakout star Kawann Short at defensive tackle, the Panthers‘ defense is powered by four of the NFL’s best at their respective positions.

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