The Carolina Panthers owned the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, but they were coming off a 2-14 record, a depleted roster sans any major free agent signings from the year before – and, unbeknownst to them, were headed towards a lockout. That was what Ron Rivera inherited during his very first head coaching gig in the league. He had a ridiculous amount to deal with, Thomas Davis recalled, and still, was able to do a tremendous job reorganizing the franchise and getting players to buy into the program.

Heading into his 16th season in the NFL, Davis, who played for Rivera from 2011 to 2018, said his former coach doesn’t have that issue here. The veteran linebacker looked over the roster himself before deciding to sign with the team this March and rejoin Rivera. During the course of a 15-minute press conference, Tuesday with local reporters, the former Los Angeles Charger frequently talked about the young talent he thinks is among this group, whether it was the front…



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