Panther Insider News and Notes

"I think I did OK," Foster said. "I made some plays out there."

Stephen Davis, the NFC's leading rusher, sat out Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a mild ankle sprain, paving the way for DeShaun Foster to make his first NFL start.

Foster, playing in his ninth game as a pro, carried 22 times for 56 yards, a 2.5-yard average, and had one reception for minus-2 yards in Carolina's 27-24 win over Tampa Bay. "I think I did OK," Foster said. "I made some plays out there."

Panthers coach John Fox said the decision on Davis was "close" but the team decided to hold him out after watching him run a few hours before the game. "You want to have him around for the season," Fox said.

Davis will be listed as day-to-day this week, but it's expected he will play this Sunday against his former team, the Washington Redskins.

With Davis out, Foster found the running lanes clogged most of the day as the Bucs stuffed eight men in the box and forced quarterback Jake Delhomme to beat them through the air. Foster was trapped for negative yards on four carries and was held to no gain on four more. His longest run of the game was for 13 yards.

"Stephen obviously means a lot to this football team, confidence-wise as well as ability," Fox said. "For a game like this that we knew was going to be a physical division game it was obviously someone we missed a lot." NOTES, QUOTES, ANECDOTES

--RB Stephen Davis hopes to get back on the field this week after missing Sunday's game with an ankle injury. You can bet Davis is anxious to play against his former team.

--WR Steve Smith continues to post big numbers with 52 receptions for 645 yards and five touchdowns.

--WR Kevin Dyson could be activated this week against Washington. This will be Dyson's second week of practice with the team. He said he was ready to play three weeks ago.

--LB Jason Kyle injured his ankle on Sunday and will be listed as day-to-day this week.

--K John Kasay continues to have a masterful season for the Panthers, converting all 20 field goal attempts. What is most impressive about that figure is eight of those field goals have come from 45 yards and beyond.

--DE Mike Rucker recorded his 11th sack of the season on Sunday.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Your first goal is to win the division and then you go from there. You look for home-field advantage in the playoffs. This is a crucial win and small piece of where we want to go. We still have a long way to go, but this is definitely a big win." -- WR Ricky Proehl, who had a breakout game with three receptions for 133 yards and a touchdown in a 27-24 win over Tampa Bay.

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