After playing for multiple weeks on a partially torn ACL, Panthers cornerback Charles Tillman saw his knee injury get worse this past Sunday against the Buccaneers. Head coach Ron Rivera confirmed today to reporters, including ESPN’s David Newton, that Tillman sustained a fully torn ACL, and will miss the postseason.
Tillman, who turns 35 in February, had a nice bounce-back season in Carolina this year after playing in just 10 total games for the Bears in 2013 and 2014. In his first season with the Panthers, the veteran defensive back compiled 55 tackles, two interceptions, and – his longtime specialty – a pair of forced fumbles.
Tillman’s injury leaves the Panthers fairly short-handed in the secondary as they prepare for their divisional round game. According to Rivera, Robert McClain will step into the starting lineup as the club’s cornerback opposite Josh Norman (link via Newton). Carolina also figures to add a new player to its roster when it moves Tillman to IR, though that new addition may not be a contributor during the playoffs.
As for Tillman, it’s fair to wonder if he’ll return next season. He likely won’t be healthy until the summer or fall, and at age 35, without a contract for 2016, he’s no lock to continue playing. Of course, considering how Tillman played this year after missing nearly all of 2014, I wouldn’t rule him out just yet.