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Davis on 'Skins....Don't go there


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Davis on Skins: Don't go there


Days before the first game, Stephen Davis was in mid-preseason form.

"If I'm going to be honest, I don't want to get anything started," the Carolina Panthers' running back responded when questions about his former team (the Washington Redskins) popped up a few days ago. "I don't want to talk about it because I know it will stir up some stuff, and I don't want to do that."


Welcome to the NFL preseason, where holding back is an art form. When the Carolina Panthers make their exhibition debut against the Redskins at Ericsson Stadium tonight, full disclosure won't be the norm.

"The reality is you're not playing your No. 1 team all four quarters, which is a major difference between the preseason and regular season," Panthers coach John Fox said.

Fans anxious to see Davis and a revamped Carolina offense will get only a peek. Fox's plan is to play the starters about a quarter. Almost every coach will tell you he wants to win in the preseason, but Fox admits victories aren't the only goal. Avoiding injuries and sorting out position competition also are important.

"The preseason is a Catch 22," Fox said. "You are trying to get your team ready for the regular season and yet making sure you have a team left at the end of it to be competitive. We are trying to win every game no matter what group is in there. Obviously, we are not going to play our first team just to win a preseason game."

But that's where things could get interesting. Steve Spurrier, perhaps the only coach in recent history to pull out all the preseason stops, will be on the other sideline. Spurrier, who was making his NFL debut, was criticized last year as the Redskins sometimes used their first string in the fourth quarter.

"I think he read into (the preseason) a little more than it really was," Davis said. "Teams were just in their basic stuff and seeing what guys can make the team. We did a lot of stuff as far as throwing the ball and we kind of opened up the playbook in the preseason."

That's as close as Davis would come to criticizing his former coach. Signed as Carolina's marquee free agent in March, Davis has been more than hesitant to talk at length about his final season in Washington. After being a perennial 1,000-yard rusher, Davis' role changed dramatically when Spurrier brought the pass-happy offense he made famous at Florida to the NFL. Davis' workload and yardage dropped.

"It was tough, considering what I'd done in previous years to come to that point," Davis said. "To have that happen to me last year, it was a learning experience. It helped me out a whole lot as a person, not only as a player."

But Davis' fresh start begins tonight. He isn't likely to get a lot of carries, and that's largely because the Panthers want to keep Davis fresh for the regular season. One of the major reasons he signed with Carolina is the Panthers run a ball-control offense focused on the running game. The Panthers finished 31st in total offense in that system last season.

That's why the off-season emphasis was on improving the offense. The Panthers signed quarterback Jake Delhomme, receiver Ricky Proehl, guard Doug Brzezinski and used their first two draft picks on tackle Jordan Gross and guard/center Bruce Nelson. But the biggest piece could turn out to be Davis. The Panthers are likely to give him 20 to 30 carries a game in the regular season.

"I love it. I love it. I love it," Davis said, when asked about the prospect of getting so many carries.

"I ain't seen it in a long time."



WHEN: 8 p.m.

WHERE: Ericsson Stadium

TICKETS: Sold out



KICKOFF FORECAST: Isolated thunderstorms, 77

GATES OPEN: 6 p.m.

SECURITY: Express check-in line for fans without bags; bag inspection; no backpacks or strollers.

Updated on Saturday, Aug 9, 2003 8:03 am EDT

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it's oh so ironic that a guy like Davis (or Wilkinson for that matter) was so determined NOT to compromise over time with the Redskins on contract dollars and restructuring, but were willing to be cut loose and sign on elsewhere for much less money than the Redskins were offering in a restructed deal :)

remember Davis and his demand for a $100 million contract and $10 million bonus when he had just the one 1,000 yard season behind him?

now he's happy working for a $2.5 million bonus in country boy land down in Carolina, eh? :laugh:

by the way, I don't see Wilkinson with even a $1 million offer on the table for 2003..............

what he is finding is the better teams that could be creative in offering him a package of incentives are turned off by his attitude and history of inconsistent play............while the less talented teams such as Detroit and Arizona that might have interest in him don't as a general rule pay top dollar :)

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Oh, it sounds to me like Carolina's a great fit for him. (I'll confess: I don't pay a lot of attention to them, so I'm basing things on this article.)

A team that wants to run a ball-controll offense, ranked 31st last year, and spent the draft on O-linemen, sounds like a great deal for him.

Now, I'll agree with you about Wilkie: based on what's come out, he tried to play "bluff" poker, and lost big. (Unfortunately, the 'Skins may have lost, too, at least in the short run.)

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my point is that even if Spurrier had not come here and the Redskins had continued to run a ball control offense featuring Davis, that Davis' often confrontational approach to negotiations and restructuring would probably have caused a separation with the team even if a guy like Parcells had ended up coaching the Skins.

truth be told, Davis was NEVER reasonable about his contract, not even in 1999 when he was a no-name guy that came off the bench to have his first solid season.

the guy always seemed to have a chip on his shoulder vis a vis the organization, regardless of the circumstances.

no doubt he is better off in Carolina, in a system better suited to his talents.

but he is also now working for less than market dollars for a back with 4 1,000 yard seasons to his credit at age 29.

Why Davis and his agent couldn't have shown more realism in their various negotiations here in DC since 1999 is a question mark.

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Out of all the Skins... the best full-body actions shots were all of Davis. It's darn shame.. so many awesome graphics are now unavailable to us.

I'm with Bulldog on this one... he always strong-armed the organization when it comes to contract negotiations. Didn't like the fumbles... or the injuries that prevented him from playing in the most critical games. But he was a workhorse.

I think he's the perfect back for Carolina.

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The handwritng was on the wall for Davis after last year. It was clear that Spurrier wanted to go in a different direction for the offense and Davis, particulalry at that salary was not going to be a part of that.

As for Wilkinson, I think he will be back in Washington after his shopping trip. It's already on the record that an offer remains on the table after he's explored his options. The decision to release him may be less rikiy thatn it seems. Keep in mind that he's looking for the big money in a market situation that isn't really in his favour at the moment. Should a team experience a train wreck at the DT position at camp, then maybe he's a hot item. Until then, he's likely to come back with different expectations in terms of salary.

BYW, guys, I'm new here. I'm ompressed with the layout and the passion of the posters here. See you around !:pint:

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Originally posted by Phrozen Phil

BYW, guys, I'm new here. I'm ompressed with the layout and the passion of the posters here. See you around !:pint:

I thought it was obvious... we're all EXTREMEskins fans here :) Welcome. Always good to see a new poster post smilies in their first post.. means they're familiar with the software and won't be asking too many newbie technical questions :)

I generally agree with your post though. The ultimate commitment was made to Spurrier here. This team was going to be molded to his liking.. like it or not. Frankly, I'm not attached to any one player or coach. Just win baby... and every decision you made leading up to that Super Bowl victory was the right one.

I think Wilkinson comes back too. Though I'm ambivalent.

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Spurrier is a smart man, and his past results, even though in college, show it. Every college coach has a rough first season- it is inevitable. And all of the scrutiny the skins have had for off-season acquisitions could very well be stuffed down their critic's throats this year!

Davis was not a piece, though he is a great back, and I hope he has a great season...just not agianst us! The new running backs will prove themselves through their speed, with draws, delays, swing passes, etc., while a solid receiving core gets respected down the field. Davis was not a great fit for this. Kudos Spurrier! Hail victory!

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