One of the key battles to watch this training camp for the Carolina Panthers will be between two veteran cornerbacks, who were both signed in free agency. Also players who come with major question marks.
Why Charles Tillman Will Win the Battle
Tillman spent the past 12 season with the Chicago Bears and for the first time in his career will be wearing a different NFL uniform. The biggest advantage Tillman has over Houston is the fact that he has experience playing for Ron Rivera and this defense. Rivera was the defensive coordinator for two season while Tillman was with the Bears.
He also has good size to play against some of the bigger wide receivers in the division like Bucs’ Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson and the Saints’ Marques Colston. In his career, Tillman has shown a knack for forcing turnovers and making the big play. In his 12 seasons in the NFL, he has at least three interceptions in nine of them. He also has eight career defensive touchdowns which would be a huge benefit for this defense.
Why Chris Houston Will Win the Battle
The biggest difference that stands out between these two players is the fact that Houston is four years younger. Now the former Detroit Lions cornerback did miss the entire 2014 season as he tried to recover from a toe injury. The Panthers don’t know what type of player they are getting however Tillman has had his own injury problems as of late missing 22 games over the past two seasons.
Prior to the injury, Houston was a cornerback on the rise with 154 tackles, nine interceptions and two defensive touchdowns in the past three seasons. The Lions had signed him to a substantial contract extension (5-years, $25 million) prior to the 2013 season. They saw something in Houston to give him that contract and the Panthers hope he can get back to that playing level.
First let me say that I believe both players will make the Panthers roster. They bring a veteran presence to the cornerback position that will be extremely valuable and one that will go beyond the stat sheet.
In terms of who is going to win, it is hard to pick. Both players are coming off serious injuries and it remains to be seen how they respond on the practice field. I tend to lean towards Chris Houston getting the start because he is younger and the fact that he sat out the entire year last year. This could be thought of as a negative but he gave his injury plenty of time to recover. He should be completely recovered entering training camp.
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