With a widening hole in their secondary, the Carolina Panthers are planning to bridge the gap with a couple of Band-Aids.
The first move came Tuesday afternoon when they signed free agent cornerback Robert McClain and put Bené Benwikere on injured reserve. The second isn't official, but it's likely the hand they'll be forced to play.
According to multiple sources, cornerback Charles Tillman has been dealing with a partially torn ACL. Both he and the Panthers have been tight-lipped about his status the past few weeks, but their fingers were crossed that he could return by the end of the season. With Benwikere done for the year, the Panthers may not have the luxury to wait.
Coach Ron Rivera said Monday the team wanted to see how Tillman's knee would respond during Wednesday's practice. Unless it improves greatly over the next 24 hours, the Panthers are planning to promote Lou Young from the practice squad with Tillman likely headed for injured reserve.
A three-year starter at Georgia Tech, Young signed with Denver as an undrafted free agent in 2014. He then spent time on practice squads in Baltimore and Jacksonville before the Panthers signed him to theirs last November.
Young impressed coaches in workouts this spring, but a hamstring injury cost him most of training camp. At 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, Young has good size and plays physical, but he's never played in an NFL regular-season game.
McClain, who was a Panthers' seventh-round pick in 2010, spent 2012-14 with the Falcons. He was in camp with New England this summer, but was released in final cutdowns.
In four seasons, McClain has totaled 202 tackles, three interceptions and 21 passes defensed.