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Carolina Panthers

Panthers sign FB Tolbert


CHARLOTTE - Fullback Mike Tolbert, who rushed for more than 1,200 yards and scored 21 times over the past two seasons, has signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Panthers.

Tolbert, who often stood out in a crowded backfield with the San Diego Chargers, joins the "Double Trouble" backfield of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart that has combined for nearly 5,000 rushing yards over the past three seasons.

"Mike is a very versatile player who can do a lot of different things for us," Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said. "He plays fullback, catches the ball well out of the backfield, plays running back, and is an outstanding special teams player.

"It was a good fit and gives us a chance to add another weapon on offense. We are excited about bringing him back to the Carolinas."

Tolbert, a 5-9, 243-pounder, signed with the Chargers as an undrafted rookie free agent from Coastal Carolina in 2008.

He played in all but two games over the past three seasons while taking advantage of opportunities created by injuries. In 2010, when starting running back Ryan Mathews missed four games, Tolbert took over with authority, finishing the season with a team-leading 735 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Last season, when Mathews missed two games, Tolbert gained 490 yards with eight touchdowns and also shined in the short passing game, catching 54 passes for 433 yards with two touchdowns.

Tolbert also tied for the team lead with 12 special teams tackles in 2011 and has 42 career special teams tackles.

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