Hicks again finds Davis in his path
Panthers running backs were Skins teammates
Skip Hicks once again finds himself running in the long shadow of Stephen Davis.
Hicks, a running back, signed with the Carolina Panthers in December after sitting out most of the 2002 season. Carolina liked his speed, and with DeShaun Foster recovering from knee surgery and Lamar Smith unlikely to return, the Panthers picked Hicks up as insurance for 2003.
Then, in March, Carolina signed Stephen Davis.
Davis, who had averaged more than 1,200 yards rushing the past four seasons with Washington, was immediately penciled in as the No. 1 running back -- just as he had been when Hicks was his Redskins teammate.
The pair had played together in Washington from 1998 through
2000, and Hicks had seen Davis' career blossom. Hicks, fresh from UCLA, started five games at running back that first year while Davis played fullback, but in 1999 Davis took over the Redskins' ground game. Hicks' playing time diminished, and in 2001 he moved on to
The Titans made him a salary cap casualty before last season, and Hicks spent most of 2002 without a job.
"It was a little bit of a bad situation," he said after a Panthers practice this week. "If you think too much, it'll get to you;
why this, why that? You start doubting yourself.
"But my fiancée and I were also expecting a little boy (Kaleb, born Nov. 11), and I was able to spend time with her in San Diego. I try to look at the positive in every situation, and that was the
Some teams were interested, but nothing worked out until the Panthers called.
Hicks didn't play in Carolina's final two games, but got used to the team and the city and began thinking about having an impact.
And then Carolina signed his old buddy, Davis.
"That's how the NFL is," Hicks said, smiling. "We started off together and eventually hooked back up. We had some good times. We know each other very well, which is good coming into this system,
because we help each other out a lot, and we push each other a lot.
"Hopefully, I'll bring out the best in him, because he always brings out the best in me."
With Davis around again, Hicks understands his place in the Panthers' pecking order. He hopes to make himself valuable enough on special teams to convince Carolina to clear a slot for him in 2003.
"What I want to do is make my mark on special teams, and running
back will be there," said Hicks, whose 230-pound frame is coupled with 4.4-second speed in the 40-yard dash.