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Bills RB Mike Tolbert wants to show Panthers he hasn't 'deteriorated'

From ESPN - September 13, 2017

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Mike Tolbert's exit from the Carolina Panthers in February wasnt exactly smooth.

Based on what the 31-year-old Buffalo Bills running back said during Wednesdays conference call in preparation for Sundays game at Carolina, the word "deteriorated" -- as in his skills have deteriorated -- was used.

But as Tolbert reminded, his 12 carries for 42 yards and a touchdown in Buffalos 21-12 season-opening victory over the New York Jets "dont seem deteriorated at all, does it?"

Tolbert didnt mention any names, but the decision to release him with a year left on his contract was made by Dave Gettleman, who was fired as Carolinas general manager a week before training camp.

"Everybody is entitled to their own opinion," said Tolbert, who rushed 35 times for 114 yards and no touchdowns last season at Carolina. I use that whole 'deteriorated' word as motivation, not destruction. I am not going to let it tear me down. Im going to let it build me up."

Tolbert signed a two-year, $3.3 million deal with the Bills on March 9. He was brought in by head coach Sean McDermott, who spent the previous six seasons as the defensive coordinator at Carolina, to help create in Buffalo the locker room culture the Panthers talk about as being vital to their success.

The Bills signed former Carolina third-string quarterback Joe Webb for the same reason after he was released by the Panthers following the final preseason game.

Webb and Tolbert are similar in that they helped create a loose atmosphere in the locker room. The current Carolina locker room is much quieter without Tolbert there to play loud music.

"I was the heartbeat," Tolbert said. "I could keep things rolling."

Tolbert had more nicknames than anybody on the Panthers because of his 5-foot-9, 243-pound physique. He affectionately was called everything from "Toldozier" to "Tub of Goo" to "Fat Boy" to "Human Bowling Ball."

But the Panthers moved on from Tolbert, entering this season without a true fullback. They went with more speed with the addition of first-round draft pick Christian McCaffrey, who at 5-foot-11, 205 pounds can play running back, fullback, split end and wide receiver.

When the offense needs a big fullback or H-back, it turns to tight end Ed Dickson.

Tolbert is now more of a running back than fullback, backing up LeSean McCoy. But he still likes to dance after touchdowns, as he showed following his 1-yard scoring run against the Jets.

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