Mike Tolbert has quickly become a fan favorite on the Panthers roster.
The "Human Bowling Ball" as his friends call him has proved to be a reliable back that both gains yards, touchdowns, and even receives passes all while quickly wearing the opposing defenses down.
During the Rams game we saw what Tolbert was truly capable of late in the game. With the Panthers needing to run the clock and hold on to the lead. The Panthers handed the job to Tolbert, who ran aggressively and with the purpose to administer damage to the defense. The Rams never recovered.
So far this season Touchdown Mike has 5 touchdowns, 3 on the ground and 2 in the air. He is averaging 3.6 yards per carry, not bad for a guy whose primary job is to grind out tough yards when needed.
Tolbert's performance will give GM David Gettleman plenty of options this offseason when it comes to dealing with the salary cap. I do not expect Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert both to be on the 2014 roster.
Releasing Jonathan Stewart would yield a cap savings of 5.75 million through 2015. Releasing Mike Tolbert would save the Panthers 4.7 million against the cap. That difference of 1.05 million is huge when considering lingering extensions of Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly. The decision will come down Stewart's durability and the increased effectiveness of Touchdown Mike in the Shula offense.
I believe the decision will be to stick with Tolbert.
Whatever the outcome, at least for now, we can all enjoy seeing Tolbert and Stewart on the same field.