You can call him short, stout or thick, but one thing you can’t say about Mike Tolbert is that he is greedy. The Coastal Carolina University standout reportedly left more than $1 million behind in San Diego when he signed with the Panthers as a free agent, and he could be one of the most underrated players on the team.
On the field, Thomas Davis stares down the opposition, but off it the Panthers’ linebacker has had to stare down something much scarier: the surgeon’s knife. In two years Davis has torn an ACL three times, and despite those injuries, he has come back to play the game he loves in the town where his heart is and everyone, save his opponents, is glad he did.
There is a big difference in the Panthers’ defense that opened the season and what they look like now. While injuries have played a role in the roster shuffle, Greg Hardy has emerged as a threat to be one of the finest sack masters in the game.
The Panthers are 1-6 but you cannot blame defensive end Dwan Edwards who has been everything – and more – since being picked up before the start of the season. Having already set a personal best in sacks, Edwards is just one behind team leader Charles Johnson in that department.
Years from now few people will remember who brought tight end Greg Olsen to Charlotte to play for the Panthers. The new father of twins should be around for a number of years but the man who was instrumental in his acquisition will be watching him from afar.
Bit by the injury bug so far this season, Jonathan Stewart remains a big part of the Panthers present and future. Carolina needs him to be in the lineup if they have any hope of turning around their dismal 1-4 start.
Medlock is a picture of perseverance, having waited five years to get back in the league with the Panthers.
If the Panthers ever turn the corner to becoming one of the NFL’s defensive elites, you can bet Charles Johnson’s name will be prominently mentioned. The 6-year veteran has already established himself as a premier defensive end and is one of the anchors of an up-and-coming Carolina team.
Steve Smith began his career with the Carolina Panthers in 2001 and will probably finish it with the same team as his contract runs through 2015 and an option for 2016. A five time Pro Bowl selection and three-time All Pro, Smith leads by action and deeds and in some cases, words. Just ask Cam Newton and Jimmy Claussen.
Luke Kuechly may be the most polished linebacker to come out of Boston College or anywhere else for that matter. Aggressive yet technically sound, Kuechly stepped right in as a starter for the Carolina Panthers when they opened the 2012 regular season in Tampa.