SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Cornerback Charles Tillman arrived for his first training camp as Carolina Panther with the energy of a wide-eyed first-timer.
"This is (training camp) number 13," said Tillman, who spent the previous 12 seasons with the Chicago Bears. "I'm excited. New guy, new team. It's kind of like being a rookie all over again."
Kind of. Wofford College is a new environment for the veteran defensive back. The campus layout will take some getting used to. It's a completely new routine.
But Tillman is well aware of what it takes to succeed in camp and beyond. The backpack he arrived with featured a Pro Bowl logo, serving as a reminder of his reputation.
Only two other Panthers defenders have been to the Pro Bowl – linebacker Luke Kuechly and safety Roman Harper.
"I don't think I have anything to prove, but at the same time I still have something to prove," Tillman said. "I think competition brings out the best in all of us. You always want to be better than the next guy. I'm ready to start that process."
And he's anxious to see how his new defense comes together.
"There is no ceiling on how good we can be," Tillman said. "I'm glad they wanted me to be a part of this great defense."
Tillman's flight in from Chicago for the start of camp didn't go as expected. The plane had to make an emergency landing in Indianapolis after the flight crew discovered a fuel leak.
Not exactly what you want to hear as a passenger, but Tillman said everyone remained relaxed and the plane landed safely.
"Everybody else was calm, so I figured if they were cool I should keep my cool too," Tillman said. "The crew did a hell of a job. Very professional.