The Carolina Panthers may have the top seed in the NFC playoffs, but their defense was dealt a pretty serious blow on Monday. Panthers head coach Ron Rivera announced cornerback Charles Tillman has been lost for the postseason due to a torn right ACL. The injury occurred in Carolina’s regular season finale victory over Tampa Bay on Sunday.
This is the second time Tillman, a 13-year veteran, has injured his right knee. Earlier this year, Tillman missed playing time due to a right knee injury. He would have been able to take more time to recover from the knee injury but he pushed things to get back on the field after Carolina lost Bene Benwikere to a season-ending leg injury last week.
Panthers fans have been sharing plenty of best wishes with Tillman, and he took to Twitter to respond with his gratitude.
Thanks for all the support. I really appreciate it.
— Charles Tillman (@peanuttillman) January 4, 2016
With Tillman out of action, Carolina will bump Robert McClain into the starting job at cornerback. McClain has appeared in just three games this season for the Panthers. On Sunday against Tampa Bay, he picked off a pass and was credited for six tackles.
This will be quite the next-man-up situation for McCalin as he takes over a spot previously held by two of Carolina’s top defensive players. Benwikere (59 tackles) and Tillman (55 tackles) are among Carolina’s top seven tacklers this season.
Obviously, Carolina is facing some tough injury problems at the worst possible time. The Panthers managed to avoid the injury bug for much of the season, but will now have to proceed with some shallow depth in the defensive secondary just as the playoffs are about to begin. That could be bad news considering the potential matchups coming their way in the NFC Divisional round against either a confident Kirk Cousins and Washington, or Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay, or even a white hot Russell Wilson and Seattle.
Will these injuries bring an unceremonious end to what has been a wildly successful season for the Panthers?