"(Being 3-0) sure beats the alternative. When you go to the grocery store and they aren't throwing stuff at you it's something of a compliment," Fox said Monday at the team's press conference.

   --Despite racking up 191 all-purpose yards in Carolina's 23-3 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, running back Stephen Davis did not play a perfect game.

   On one second-quarter play, he was supposed to take a handoff from quarterback Jake Delhomme, but went the wrong way. Delhomme instead handed the ball to Steve Smith on a reverse and Smith was tackled for a 6-yard loss.

   Delhomme teased Davis in the huddle for the remainder of the game.

   "Stephen kind of went the wrong way, so I just handed it off to Steve because it was better he ran it than me run it," Delhomme laughed. "After that, every time I called a play I would look at Stephen Davis in the eye and if it was 34, I'd say, 'THIRTY-FOUR!' on one, and he would just shake his head at me. We had a good time and it's fun when you can have those games."

   --Davis has already ran the football 76 times in three games, which means he's on pace to carry it 405 times this season.

   When asked if that's too much work for Davis, Fox said, "The one thing I know about NFL players is sometimes they complain about not getting used enough and sometimes they complain about getting used too much. So we're going to find that happy median hopefully, and I think Stephen will be able to handle that load."

   Davis had accounted for 52.8 percent of Carolina's offensive output this season.

   --So what's the best part about starting the NFL season 3-0?

   Well, according to head coach John Fox it's going to the grocery store without a helmet on.

   "(Being 3-0) sure beats the alternative. When you go to the grocery store and they aren't throwing stuff at you it's something of a compliment," Fox said Monday at the team's press conference.

   Fox, of course, was joking, but the team's early-season success has generated a lot of interest from area football fans that have suddenly taking a shine to the Panthers. More than 68,000 fans attended Sunday's game against the NFC South division rival Atlanta Falcons and the bandwagon is filling up with each passing day.

   "If I'm a fan, I'm giddy and happy, too," Fox said. "But we can't get that way around here because we have a job to do and we have to remained focused on that job."

   Fox said he's outwardly giddy for about 10 minutes after a victory, but it all ends there. He pulls himself under control before he enters the media room for the team's post-game press conference.

   Since his arrival here last season, Fox has gone out of his way to establish a relationship with the fans, often by working through the media.

   "I've felt for our fans since I've been here," Fox said. "I know what they went through with that 1-15 year (in 2001). I wasn't here, but I wouldn't wish that upon my worst enemy. I'm happy for everyone in the city of Charlotte.

   "Our team knows they have that responsibility (to win games) and they know it's not just for them."

   BY THE NUMBERS: 1 -- Panthers running back Stephen Davis can become the first play in NFL history to begin his career with a new team by rushing for 100 yards in each of his first four games.

   3 -- Carolina's rank in the NFL in rushing offense, now the highest in franchise history.

   QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's done an outstanding job. We made a lot of changes, not just Stephen Davis. I'm much more pleased with out offensive line at this time than I was a year ago. There has been an emphasis on blocking from the tight end position that I think has been an improvement. I'm not taking anything away from Stephen Davis at all. He's done a great job. That motivates those guys up front too. It works hand in hand and I think we have improved in a lot of areas." -- Panthers head coach John Fox on the league's third-ranked rushing offense.

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