Thomas Davis re-injured his right knee against the Saints. (AP Photo)
NEW ORLEANS – As Thomas Davis stood near his locker changing into his clothes, defensive tackle Hollis Thomas called over to him, “Are you OK?”
Davis simply shook his head no and went back to what he was doing.
Davis didn’t talk about the injury that forced him to leave Sunday’s game at New Orleans, and coach John Fox offered little update other than to say he’ll wait to hear more from his medical staff before releasing any information.
“We’re hoping that it’s better than he expects it is,” linebacker Na’il Diggs said. “Right now, we’re just trying to encourage him, to keep it positive around him…
"That would be big, to lose one of our ace cards. He came in with real high expectations this season, and he was playing well. Right now all we can do is stay optimistic, maybe it’s just a couple of weeks with an MCL or whatever.”
Davis missed four weeks in training camp with a sprained MCL to the same right knee he injured Sunday. Davis is expected to have an MRI when he returns to Charlotte on Monday.
Landon Johnson filled in after Davis went out in the fourth quarter.
In other injury news, defensive end Julius Peppers injured his hand, although Fox did not list him on the injury report.
STILL HOPE LEFT: Peppers still believes the Panthers can make a run, even at 3-5.
“It is still a good football team,” Peppers said. “Our record is 3-5 or whatever it is, but I think a couple of games, a couple of plays, and everything would be different.”
Added safety Chris Harris: “We just need to learn how to win, how to close a game when we’ve got the lead. I don’t know what the deal is, but somehow, someway, we’ve got to figure it out before it’s too late.”
LATE DECISIONS: Coach John Fox was asked about the decision to run the ball on first-and-goal at the Saints 8-yard line with 41 seconds left and no timeouts remaining and his team down 30-20. The Panthers picked up six yards on the DeAngelo Williams run, but then had to spike the ball on second down, costing them a play.
Jake Delhomme's next two passes fell incomplete and the game was over.
When asked why he ran the ball instead of throwing it in that situation, Fox said, "Unfortunately we didn't have any timeouts. As it turned out we maybe should have run it after that (on third or fourth down)."
Fox also had the option to kick a field goal at that point and go for a touchdown after attempting an on-sides kick. But being so close to the end zone and the Panthers needing both a touchdown and field goal it seemed that was probably Carolina’s best chance to get the touchdown.
SMALL FULLBACK: With fullbacks Brad Hoover and Tony Fiammetta out with injuries, the Panthers were forced to fill in with a variety of others, including Tyrell Sutton, Gary Barnidge and even guard Mackenzy Bernadeau.
Using Bernadeau, it turns out, might have been a mistake.
The Panthers had a first-and-goal and the Saints’ 1-yard line in the third quarter when Jake Delhomme attempted to handoff to Jonathan Stewart. But Bernadeau bumped into Delhomme on the way through, causing him to bobble the ball. Delhomme wound up taking a 6-yard loss on the aborted play. The Panthers would eventually settle for a field goal after DeAngelo Williams dropped a pass on third down.
“I’m not too sure what happened,” Bernadeau said. “I guess I might have hit the quarterback. It’s a first-time mistake and something I’ve got to adjust to. Next time I have to be further back behind the ball. It’s unfortunate because I felt like the play might have worked and it was open.”
Sutton handled most of the fullback duties and did pretty well considering his 5-foot-8, 213-pound frame.
“I think I did OK,” Sutton said. “I think I did pretty good for being in there for only four days. It’s a lot like being the running back only you’re not running the ball. It was the same reads basically and I was out there thinking as if I was a running back and if the guy goes out, I go in and vice versa.”
SMITH NEVER SAW IT: Late in the fourth quarter the Panthers went for a big play with Steve Smith downfield, but he never picked up the ball when it left Delhomme’s hands.
Had Smith seen it, it might have resulted in a big play but instead it landed harmlessly about six yards away from him.
“Hey those mistakes happen,” Smith said. “I didn’t see the ball until it was on the ground.”
HOME NOT SO SWEET: Sunday marked the first time Jake Delhomme has lost as a starting quarterback on his “home field.”
Delhomme had been 6-0 at the Superdome.
“It just didn’t happen today,” he said.
OTHER NOTES: Along with Hoover and Fiammetta, Carolina’s other inactives included receiver Muhsin Muhammad, tight end Dante Rosario, free safety Charles Godfrey, guard Duke Robinson and defensive tackle Nick Hayden. A.J. Feeley was the third quarterback... Quinton Teal did a great job downing a punt at the New Orleans 3... There was some question as to whether the Saints player who downed a late fourth quarter punt might have stepped into the end zone without re-establishing himself in the field of play... Saints coach Sean Payton screwed up when he burned two timeouts between plays in the fourth quarter. He called timeout after a play and then, a few seconds later, challenged an incomplete pass to Marques Colston in the end zone. The officials didn't overturn the call and the Saints were charged a second timeout.