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Thomas Davis confident Carolina is class of NFC South

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CONCORD, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis has heard all the chatter about how Atlanta and Tampa Bay have improved with offseason additions more than any other NFC South team.

Here’s what he thinks about that.

"You don’t improve by adding players to your team," Davis said Tuesday during a press event at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where he will drive the pace car for this Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600. "You improve by going out there and doing what we did [last year], coming together as a group, working hard and learning the defense, learning the offense and learning how to play special teams."

The Panthers started last season 3-8-1, then won their final four games to win the NFC South and a berth in the playoffs. Leaders such as Davis played a big role in the turnaround.

"At the end of the day, when the season starts, we’ll find out who really got better," Davis said.

At an age, 32, when many NFL players are retired or thinking about it, Davis is focused on one thing -- a Super Bowl victory.

He believes the pieces are in place to do that.

"I get a lot of people who ask me, ‘Hey, TD, what do you want to do when you’re done playing football?'" Davis said. "I say, ‘I’m trying to win a Super Bowl while I’m still playing.’

"That’s my mindset. That’s what we’re focused on. That’s it. I don’t look past this year. I’m trying to take this year and do the most that I possibly can with it."

And despite what Davis said about adding players, he likes the addition of first-round draft pick Shaq Thompson.

Davis said putting the outside linebacker out of Washington in the rotation with him and middle linebacker Luke Kuechly will create a dangerous threesome behind one of the league’s top defensive fronts.

"We’re going to have a real, real fast group out there, so I’m excited about that," Davis said with a smile.

Davis also was excited the Panthers selected a player in Thompson that one day could replace him.

How far down the road that is, he’s not ready to say other than no time soon.

"When you think about you’ve got a guy who is going into his 11th year and you have an opportunity to put a guy on your team right now that can eventually replace him, that is as athletic if not more athletic, why wouldn’t you take advantage of the opportunity?" Davis said.