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Panthers' Thompson next man up after Davis suspension

By The Sports Xchange
Panthers' Thompson next man up after Davis suspension
Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis reacts as he is interviewed by Terry Bradshaw after a win over the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC championship game in November 2016. Photo by Brian Westerholt/UPI | License Photo

The four-game suspension handed to Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis will have a ripple effect on the team's defense.

Davis, who announced Friday on Twitter that he will sit out the first four games of the 2018 season for violating the league's policy for performance-enhancing drugs, leaves a gaping hole in Carolina's defense.

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Despite the fact that he turned 35 last month, Davis has been named to the Pro Bowl in each of the last three seasons, putting the onus on fourth-year linebacker Shaq Thompson to fill the void in his absence.

A former first-round pick out of Washington in 2015, Thompson quickly pledged his support for Davis following his teammate's video announcing his four-game man.

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"We know you the last person to ever cheat this game! We know how much you love and play this game with passion!" Thompson wrote on his Twitter account. "We got you back bro don't you worry about that.. ima hold it down for you bro and we you come back u ain't going miss a beat! This video explains who you are as a man!"

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Davis denied taking steroids or human growth hormone, saying the banned substance he was flagged for by the NFL was the result of an estrogen blocker that "triggered" a positive test. He said he has taken the same supplements for years and never tested positive.

Either way, the Panthers and Davis both were anticipating Thompson to take on an increased role this season. Davis said following last season that he planned to play fewer snaps in 2018 while Thompson moves toward seizing the job.

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"Those are big shoes to fill," Thompson told the team's official website Friday before hearing of Davis' suspension. "TD has made his mark on this franchise. But I'm ready. I'm ready to take on that role. Having TD's support is big. I know he has my back."

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