Inside Slant vs the Texans

Running back Stephen Davis was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week for the third time this season after rushing for a team-record 178 yards and two touchdowns.

The Carolina Panthers face their former head coach Dom Capers on Sunday when the visit the slumping Houston Texans. Ironically, the Panthers have the type of team Capers would have loved to coach.

The Panthers (6-1) got their running game going last week rushing for a franchise-record 223 yards, while the defense played much better forcing three turnovers in a 23-20 overtime victory against the New Orleans Saints.

Running back Stephen Davis was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week for the third time this season after rushing for a team-record 178 yards and two touchdowns. Fox said he believes it was Davis' best game of the season. "I thought he ran very smart and very physical at a time when we needed it," Fox said.

Davis leads the NFC and ranks second in the NFL behind Baltimore's Jamal Lewis with 839 yards rushing on 163 attempts with five touchdowns, an average of 119.9 yards per game.

The Texans, who own the league's 31st-ranked defense, can expect to see plenty of Davis this week. He's averaging more than 27 carries per game and better 137.1 yards per game on the ground.

Davis has already surpassed Fred Lane's total of 809 yards in 1997 for the second-best single-season figure in team history. The Panthers record is 1,120 yards set by Anthony Johnson in 1996.

The Panthers should also be more balanced on the ground this week, getting wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad back from a concussion. Last week, Steve Smith caught nine of Carolina's 12 passes.

Smith has 38 receptions this season for the Panthers -- 22 more than any other receiver on the team. Defensively, the Panthers could be in for a big day.

Don't be surprised if they're able to force backup quarterback Tony Banks into some mistakes and get quite a bit of pressure on him. After going two weeks without a sack, the Panthers have six in the last two games.

Mike Rucker had two sacks last week against New Orleans and is now tied for the NFC lead with eight and second-year man Julius Peppers is beginning to make plays.

Previously, Davis earned NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors in Week 2 against Tampa Bay when he compiled 142 yards on 33 attempts and in Week 5 when he rushed for 159 yards and one touchdown versus New Orleans.

SERIES HISTORY: 1st meeting. This will be the first time the Panthers face their former head coach Dom Capers.


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