Tough road ahead this weekend

Stephen Davis thinks rookie running backs Carnell "Cadillac" Williams and Ronnie Brown are pretty darn good, but who does he think is the best former Auburn running back in the NFL? "Shoot, me," smiled Davis. "Did you think I was going to say one of them?"

Davis leads the Panthers against Williams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday in a battle for first place in the NFC South.

Williams and Davis have a tough job this weekend.

Tampa Bay boasts the league's top-ranked run defense, while the Panthers rank right behind them, second in the NFL.

The Bucs are giving up 75.7 yards per game on the ground; Carolina 78.3. Both teams have surrendered only four rushing touchdowns, a big reason they're 5-2 and tied for first place with the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC South.

"It will be very tough," Davis said. "They got guys who make plays on defense. They play good team ball and have a lot of quick guys up front. They have been in the same defense for a long time, so everybody is on the same page and knows what they're doing."

Ironically, the only running back to run for 100 yards against the Panthers this season is Brown, who racked up 132 yards on the ground in helping the Miami Dolphins to an upset in Week 3.

Meanwhile, Davis hasn't sniffed 100 yards this season and is averaging just 3 yards per carry, the lowest mark of his nine-year career. However, he has been a huge weapon in goal-line situations with nine touchdowns, helping Carolina convert an NFL-best 82 percent of their red zone opportunities into touchdowns.

"Yeah, I'm helping the team win by getting in the end zone," Davis said. "That's all that matters."

Davis believes he's the second-best running back ever to come out of Auburn, behind Bo Jackson and ahead of Joe Cribbs and Rudi Johnson.

"I opened the door for (Williams and Brown)," Davis said. "If you look at it, me and Rudi Johnson (in Cincinnati) were the last running backs that were drafted out of Auburn before they got there and up until now.

"The thing is, if you're a running back at Auburn it's a great opportunity. In fact, they have one there now who is good at running the ball. And when Ronnie and Cadillac were there they were great."

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