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Tillman: Panthers are only team I want to play for

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If Charles Tillman is going to return from knee surgery to play a 14th NFL season, it will only happen in Charlotte.

Tillman emphasized Saturday that the Carolina Panthers boast a "unity and respect" among the players and coaches that made it a "special" team in 2015.

"That's the only team I really want to play for," Tillman said, via Christopher Dabe of The Times Picayune. "It's Carolina. It's a great group of men. ... A great group of coaches. The front-office guys are great. To me it was no surprise they were, or we were, 17-2."

Tillman's comments echo those he made in early January, after tearing his right ACL in the regular-season finale.

Now five months removed from knee reconstruction, Tillman is targeting the end of training camp for a potential return. By that time, Carolina's coaching staff will have a better idea if the 35-year-old is needed as veteran insurance for rookies James Bradberry and Daryl Worley.

If the Panthers do call on Tillman later this summer, he'll be happy to perform his NFL curtain call in Charlotte.

"Being in Carolina felt like I had been there my entire career," Tillman explained. "The team, the community, the atmosphere, that vibe. The Carolinas -- North Carolina and South Carolina -- they showed a lot of love."

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