Tillman: "I have a lot left"


The nickname "Peanut" was given to Charles Tillman at birth.

Shortly after Tillman took his first breath, his aunt commented that he was, "Small like a Peanut." From thereon, the name stuck.

"Nobody calls me Charles," Tillman said. "Charles is a foreign name to my family."

When Tillman was drafted by the Chicago Bears in 2003, the rookies were asked to write down a nickname they wanted to go by. Tillman submitted Peanut, of course, and Chicago embraced the nickname.

"I think I made a tackle or something and I heard the announcer go, 'Peanut Tillman on the tackle!'" Tillman recalled. "I guess it's official now."

After 12 decorated seasons with the Bears, Tillman is officially a Panther after signing a one-year contract on Thursday.

"It will just be different," Tillman said. "It's my new normal. Being at one place for so long, you get comfortable. I also think you can get complacent. Sometimes, change is good; change is necessary.

"I think Carolina is a place where I can continue to grow."

And the veteran with 36 career interceptions and 42 forced fumbles can help the Panthers' secondary continue to grow. The other six cornerbacks on the roster have 10 years of NFL experience combined.

"Do I plan on taking a starting spot? No," Tillman said. "I plan on earning and working for what I get."

The 34-year old is coming off consecutive injury-shortened seasons. He tore his triceps in 2013 after playing eight games. He tore it again in 2014 in the second game of the season. "Just a fluke injury. It's all a part of our game," he said.

But Tillman said he feels good and has a lot left to offer.

"I believe I can still play," Tillman said. "I can still produce and make plays. I have confidence in myself. I have confidence that I can get my job done."

On reuniting with Ron Rivera:

"My relationship with him is great. We've kept in contact over the years. I had a conversation with him at the Super Bowl. We shot at a commercial together in my hometown for USAA. He's a big military guy; I'm a big military guy. I like his leadership qualities and what he brings as a coach. I think he is the guy to win a championship for Carolina."

On reuniting with Steve Wilks:

"Steve and I have a great relationship because when my daughter had her heart transplant, I remember Steve's family were huge supporters of what we were going through. He was someone I leaned on. We cried together. He was more than a coach for me during that time. I'm very grateful for that. I'm also glad to be reunited with him."

On former teammate Greg Olsen:

"When Greg's family was going through (his son's heart surgery) I remember calling Greg. I was just checking on him, seeing how he and his wife were doing. I just offered some advice on things I did throughout my whole ordeal with my daughter. We still keep in contact. My wife and his wife never lost contact. In fact, Greg's wife was the first person to text my wife about the cardiologist and pediatrician (in Charlotte). One of the first things me and my wife thought about was finding good doctors. Schools, doctors, hospitals – (the Olsens) have been on it."

On fellow NFL Man of the Year recipient Thomas Davis:

"I got to know Thomas Davis when we were both nominated for the award (in 2014) and obviously last year when he was nominated again. The funny thing is, Thomas was talking to me about coming to Carolina the first year we were nominated for the award. It didn't really work out that way. I saw him at a Hornets game and he said, 'I've been trying to get you here for two years! What's up?' I think it's a good fit and I think Thomas is a great individual. He represents the Panthers well. He's very deserving of the award with the work that he does with his foundation."

On Carolina's defense:

"As a defensive back, what I was taught and what I was brought up on is a secondary is only as strong as its D-line. From talking to (Eric Washington) the D-line coach, I really really like what he's done with the defensive line. The D-line and secondary are like a marriage. It goes hand in hand. This D-line plays downhill and they play fast. That's what I'm used to in Chicago and I'm excited because I'm only as good as my defensive line. I give all my credit to the defensive line because they create so much havoc and chaos. It makes my job 10 times easier."

On his age:

"I have a lot left in the tank. I feel good. If you're feeling good and playing good, it shouldn't matter how old you are."

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