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Charles Tillman adds experience to Carolina Panthers secondary
Veteran cornerback has big-play history
Published Friday, June 5, 2015 2:39 pm
by Ashley Mahoney

Being the new kid has never been easy.

However, cornerback Charles Tillman has quickly fallen in line with the Carolina Panthers since signing as an unrestricted free agent on April 9.

“I’m here trying to do my small 1/11th and just do my small part,” said Tillman. “It’s a team style. I do what I’m told, but I think have a little bit of freedom to be creative within the defense—if that makes any sense. I’m just trying to do my part—fit in and just contribute so that we can win some games.”

After 12 seasons with the Chicago Bears, Tillman brings veteran experience to a very young team.

“One of the things that he’s done real nice is he’s mixing in with the players—young guys, young corners especially,” said Panthers coach Ron Rivera. “He’s sharing his wealth of knowledge. I think he’s done a great job for us. He’s had a great impact.”  

Tillman credits his ease with the Panthers to having worked with Rivera and Panthers assistant head coach/secondary coach Steve Wilks in Chicago.

“I worked well with those guys when I was in Chicago,” said Tillman. “I’ve seen what coach Rivera has done here in Charlotte, and it’s what I’m used to. I consider Charlotte old culture. It’s something that I was around in Chicago.”

Carolina’s recent success has come from a very young secondary. However, Tillman’s veteran presence gives the Panthers’ corners an experienced leader outside of the coaching staff.

“I think it’s very important especially with a young group of corners,” Rivera said. “He’s given them some great insight.”

Both during and after practice (where he’s stayed on the field to help clarify things for younger teammates) Tillman remained vocal.

“It’s not just about me being vocal. I think our defense does a really good job being vocal,” he said. “If we see something, I’m not going to keep it a secret. A closed mouth doesn’t get fed. If I see something… that could possibly help them or help us win games then definitely I’ll express that to them.”

Tillman, who was drafted in the second round of the 2003 NFL Draft (35th overall) by Chicago, has been a playmaker. With the Bears, he had eight touchdowns, 856 tackles, 10 fumble recoveries, 42 forced fumbles, 36 interceptions for 675 yards, and three sacks.

“I’m a 1/11th. I’m just trying to play within the scheme of our defense,” Tillman said. “Hopefully, I can help us win more games—hopefully create more takeaways. I know they’re NFC South Division champs two years in a row, but I’m not satisfied until we get a Super Bowl. Division champs are good, but the ultimate goal, like all 32 teams, we’re all working collectively for that one goal, and that’s a Super Bowl. Hopefully, we can get that accomplished.”


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