Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said he would support a player’s decision to miss a game for the birth of a child, the situation Bears cornerback Charles Tillman is facing this weekend.
For Ron Rivera and Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman, it’s family before football.
The Panthers head coach said Thursday he would support a player’s decision to miss a game for the birth of a child, the situation Tillman is facing this weekend.
“The worst thing a player can do is make a decision that he has doubt about,” Rivera said. “I know Charles Tillman. And if Charles has any doubt that this could be a detriment to his family life, Charles will do what he believes is best for his family.
“I would support a player if that’s what he did.”
The Bears (7-1) play Houston (7-1) on Sunday night in a matchup of division leaders. Tillman’s wife is scheduled to deliver the child on Monday.
Tillman tweeted Thursday "god, family, football. ... Baby is coming Monday don't worry I'll be there Sunday."
Tillman has three children, including a daughter who had a heart transplant in 2008.
Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, who was once Tillman’s teammate in Chicago, can relate. Olsen’s son, TJ, was born last month with a heart defect. TJ came home for the first time this week, and Olsen said the family is getting everyone in a routine.
“I think it's really easy for people to sit and judge before you know the situation,” said Olsen, referring to the scrutiny Tillman has come under in recent days. “Everything he's been through with his family and his daughter, he understands, as a lot of us do, that there's a lot of things sometimes that you can't control. But family is something that's a priority.”
CONCEPTUAL GETTIS: Recently activated wide receiver David Gettis said his body feels 100 percent, and the mental aspect of the game is gradually coming back.
Gettis hasn’t played in a game since the 2010 season, and after tearing his ACL in 2011 and nursing a hamstring injury this season, he’ll likely be the kickoff returner for the Panthers against Denver on Sunday.
He said he’s anxious to get on the field.
“It’s just the mental part, being comfortable and knowing where you’re supposed to be and when you’re supposed to be there,” Gettis said. “When you know all of that stuff you don’t have to think, you can react. I’m still thinking a little bit.”
INJURY UPDATE: A day after eight players sat out practice, the Panthers had only one player, defensive end Antwan Applewhite (hamstring), sidelined Thursday.
Rivera said it’s too early for an injured reserve decision on Applewhite.
Fullback Mike Tolbert (head) returned to practice. The Panthers are following the concussion protocol, and barring any setbacks, he’ll be able to play against Denver.
Defensive end Thomas Keiser (elbow), who had been out since Week 8, returned Thursday, but Rivera said he still has a long way to go before he’s back to full health.
NORMAN REDEMPTION: Giants quarterback Eli Manning picked on rookie cornerback Josh Norman in the Panthers’ Week 3 loss to New York.
Manning picked apart the Carolina secondary with 288 yards passing and one touchdown. But Norman said he plans to play tighter coverage against the Broncos and Peyton Manning, a quarterback he idolized growing up.
“I can't go out there with that intent,” said Norman of looking up to Peyton Manning. “If anything, you want to go out there and … see how I match up to him. It's more of a challenge to me to see where I stack up, where our defense stacks up.”
Regardless, he expects to fare better than he did against the Giants.
"It's not going to be like the other Manning," he said.
PHILLIPS FLIPS: Panthers linebacker Jason Phillips was flipping out before practice on Thursday.
After the team finished stretching and broke the huddle, players made room for Phillips to do a backflip.
“We went out there today and Jordan or somebody said something about it so I said, ‘All right, yeah.”
Phillips credited jumping on trampolines at a young age for his ability to do a backflip, but said the first time he tried it on the ground he landed on his face.
ANOTHER SELLOUT: The Panthers-Broncos game marks the 100th consecutive sellout in Bank of America Stadium, according to the ticket office’s official Twitter account.
Staff writer Joseph Person contributed.