CHARLOTTE – Fullback Mike Tolbert has been placed on injured reserve/designated for return, meaning that Tolbert's next game won't be before Carolina visits Minnesota in Week 13.
The Panthers filled Tolbert's roster spot by signing former practice squad linebacker D.J. Smith.
Tolbert suffered a hairline fracture in his left knee during Sunday's loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and head coach Ron Rivera had already ruled Tolbert out for this week's game at the Baltimore Ravens.
Tolbert has played in all 35 games since signing with the Panthers in 2012. He was off to a slow start running the ball this season with just 10 yards on 14 carries but had eight catches for 59 yards. Overall for Carolina, Tolbert has totaled 554 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on 169 attempts and 62 catches for 511 yards and two touchdowns.
This is the first time the Panthers have placed a player on injured reserve/designated for return since it went into effect in 2012. The designation can be used on one player per season who has a major injury that will keep him out for at least six weeks. Players can return to practice six weeks after being placed on the list and can return to the active roster after eight weeks.
Smith, a Charlotte native and Appalachian State product, spent training with the Panthers and joined the team's practice squad one day after being waived in the final roster cutdown. Smith will provide depth if linebacker Thomas Davis, who suffered a leg injury against the Steelers, can't play against Baltimore.
A sixth-round draft choice by Green Bay in 2011, Smith played in 22 games with nine starts for the Packers in 2011 and 2012 and played in one game for the Houston Texans last season.
The Panthers also signed wide receiver Willie Snead to their practice squad. Snead, a 5-11, 195-pound undrafted rookie from Ball State, spent training camp with the Cleveland Browns. He fills the spot previously occupied by running back Darrin Reaves, who was signed to the 53-man roster Saturday.