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Carolina Panthers

Tolbert craves contact


SPARTANBURG, S.C. – It doesn't take much film study to break down Mike Tolbert's running style.

The 5-9, 245-pound back packs a punch.

That characteristic also follows him into the offseason.

Two years ago, Tolbert wanted to freshen up his offseason workout regimen, so he decided to step into the kickboxing ring with his personal trainer in California.

The newest kick boxer was suddenly hooked.

"The best workout I've ever done," Tolbert said. "I was just looking for something different, something to push my body to the next level. I tried it out and loved it."

Kickboxing is now stapled into Tolbert's offseason program, and he's become a bit of a competitive fighting fanatic.

"The big MMA fights, the big boxing fights – I try to watch them all," Tolbert said. "I just love anything contact."

The NFL knows all about Tolbert's love for contact.

After going undrafted in 2008, he broke into the league with the San Diego Chargers through his standout work on special teams – a phase of the game where some of the most violent collisions occur.

He gradually saw his role expand to the offensive backfield, where the self-proclaimed heavyweight continued to display his power and physicality.

"When your 5-9, 245 pounds and everyone is telling you, 'you can't,' you've got to be ready to hit somebody in the mouth every time, just to prove that you can," Tolbert said.

The Panthers took notice and signed Tolbert as an unrestricted free agent this offseason, hoping to add yet another dimension to a high-powered offense.

Tolbert compiled 19 rushing touchdowns in his final two years in San Diego and showcased his receiving skill last season, reeling in 54 receptions.

Additionally, Tolbert relishes the opportunity to clear space as a run blocker or pass protector. And when the ball is in hands, he's not looking to make people miss. He's looking for more contact.

"I've done things in the past four years that have earned some respect from the other guys," Tolbert said, "but I've still got people to impress.

"I'm here to make a statement."

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