Tolbert faces first prolonged absence

CHARLOTTE – Seven-year veteran Mike Tolbert has played in 94 out of 99 regular season games. The three games he missed with a shoulder injury as a rookie in 2008 were the most the bruising fullback has ever missed in one season.

But Tolbert will miss the next eight games for Carolina with a hairline fracture in his left knee. The injury suffered against the Steelers landed him on injured reserve/designated for return.

"This is the worst injury I've ever had," Tolbert said. "This is the most games I've ever missed at once."

Having said that, Tolbert admits it could be a lot worse. And he's thankful he's been given a chance to return to the lineup when the Panthers visit the Minnesota Vikings in Week 13.

"I looked at it as an honor not to go on long-term IR but the short-term IR just for the simple fact that they feel I'm a benefit to the team," Tolbert said. "They want me back as soon as possible."

Tolbert said former Panthers safety Mike Mitchell, who tackled him when the injury occurred, called the day after the game to check on him.

"It was a football play. I'm not mad at him at all," Tolbert said. "Right now my main focus is to get healthy."

Tolbert said the pain is diminishing and he's anxious to begin rehabbing.

As he waits for these long eight weeks to pass, there's no doubt Tolbert will continue to make his voice heard in the locker room.

"Absolutely. It's my personality," Tolbert said. "I'm a guy that likes to talk and keep things light in the locker room. But I'm also very passionate about what I do. I'll be here voicing my opinion; I'll be here on the sideline talking to my teammates. I'll be watching film with them and let them know what I've seen."

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