5 former Panthers players you’ve probably forgotten about

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Will Witherspoon
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Will Witherspoon /
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Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Craig Jones/Getty Images) Mike Rucker /

Mike Rucker – DE

Mike Rucker had all the physical attributes needed to be a true pass-rushing great in the NFL. He was fast, strong, explosive, and had a natural ability to beat people off the line of scrimmage almost at will.

That’s why it’s hard not to look at his career with the Carolina Panthers and wonder what might have been. Rucker was not a bust by any stretch of the imagination. But his 55 sacks over nine years could have been so much more if he’d put everything together more consistently.

Rucker was taken in the second round by Carolina in the 1999 NFL Draft and secured 5.5 sacks over his first two seasons in a rotational role. This was followed by the undoubted purple patch that came from 2001-2003 where the former Nebraska star was one of the best in the business.

His 2003 campaign of 12 sacks resulted in a Pro Bowl appearance and propelled his stats to 21 sacks over this three-year period. Sadly for Rucker and the Panthers, he was never quite able to reach these heights again and retired after the 2007 season.

Nobody that watched Rucker during those prime years will forget what sort of impact he made in a hurry. For others, he will be remembered throughout history as a player that had everything going for him but couldn’t quite find the consistency to become an all-time great.