A bad week for the Carolina Panthers got worse yesterday when tailback Stephen Davis underwent arthroscopic knee surgery. The defending NFC champions will be without their workhorse runner for two to five weeks, according to Coach John Fox.

Davis underwent an MRI exam after experiencing swelling in the knee following Thursday's practice, Fox said during his daily news briefing with reporters, and had a cartilage problem repaired by doctors yesterday. He was bothered by a bruise on the same knee during the preseason.

DeShaun Foster, Carolina's explosive backup who ran for 429 yards last season, takes over as the Panthers' featured runner for Sunday's game at Kansas City, where the Chiefs have won 13 consecutive regular season games.

"That is why we have got DeShaun," Fox said. "As I told the team, we have got 53 men out here we think can start and win for us. . . . We are going to run our offense. We practiced it all week [and] we found out about this late in the week."

Davis rushed for 1,444 yards last season as the focal point of the club's offense but ran for only 26 yards on nine carries in Monday night's season-opening, 24-14 loss to the Green Bay Packers. The Panthers lost standout wide receiver Steve Smith for most of the season because of a broken leg suffered in that game, and are trying to solve problems along an offensive line in which only one player is starting at the same position as last season.

"We played without guys last year and the year before that," Fox said. "It is part of the game. Kansas City is going to play without some starters. These guys understand that. It is part of the game, and guys have to step up. It is not the first time it has happened."

-- Mark Maske