The NFC playoff race is as good as it’s been in years. One of the more highly-anticipated games on yesterday’s Week 15 slate involved the Carolina Panthers and Green Bay Packers. Carolina came into the contest at 9-4, and Green Bay was 7-6. The return of Packers’ superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers from a rough collarbone injury got all the headlines, but Rodgers was pretty rusty. The Panthers’ hard-hitting defense got after Rodgers, forcing him to throw three interceptions, and Carolina was able to pull out a victory. The Panthers did not get out of the day entirely scot-free, though. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that linebacker Thomas Davis was suspended two games for an illegal hit on Green Bay’s wide receiver Davante Adams. The hit came when Davis was blocking for Carolina safety Colin Jones, who intercepted a pass by Rodgers.
This sort of play was similar to a block in which Pittsburgh Steelers’ wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster peeled back and hit Cincinnati Bengals’ linebacker Vontaze Burfict. The NFL league office suspended Smith-Schuster one game for that, as per Schefter. Just like Smith-Schuster attempted to, Davis will attempt to appeal his suspension. The problem for Davis, in this case, is that this is not his first infraction, as was demonstrated by ESPN’s David Newton.
“Davis also was fined earlier in the year for a hit against Chicago that he appealed, so he was considered a repeat offender.”
Adams’ frustration over the hit was well-documented on Twitter, too, as per ESPN’s Rob Demovsky. This open criticism of Davis by the disgruntled wideout caused Davis to tweet his apology quickly, but the medical issue still remains in regards to Adams.
“Sunday’s concussion was Adams’ third in two seasons,” Newton said.
Davis was not ejected for the hit and was only penalized. The league office did not agree with that judgment, and considered the hit to be “flagrant,” and Davis was penalized again for “violation of “safety-related playing rules,” as per Schefter. Davis’ absence during Carolina’s last two games would be a rough one for their defense, as he is one of their team leaders and is a big-time playmaker. He contributes in a variety of ways as a run-stuffer, quality blitzer, and great zone coverage linebacker.
Despite the extent of the suspension and the explanation that came with it, Carolina’s head coach Ron Rivera did not see any reason for Davis to be sidelined, because of lack of intent, according to Newton.
“If you see Thomas’ reaction to the hit that he made, you know that it wasn’t intentional to hit him that way,” Rivera said. “It was intentional that he wanted to block him, and I just take it from the way he reacted he did not intend to hit high or in the head.”
Unfortunately for Davis, the intent is not the only reason for the league’s suspension. He’ll have to adjust his tackling technique from this point forward, so he is not fined or suspended again. This suspension is yet another distraction this Panthers squad will have to deal with in the coming weeks, as it simply adds to the impending sale of the team by former owner Jerry Richardson.