Panthers Defender Hanging Up His Cleats

Carolina defensive end Mike Rucker has had second thoughts. In February, after a season in which he returned from a serious knee injury to register 57 tackles and three sacks, he decided he'd play for at least one more season. But the Panthers chose not to re-sign the nine-year NFL veteran and today comes word from Charlotte that the 33-year-old lineman is opting for retirement.

Rucker was Carolina's second-round pick in 1999 and quickly became one of the anchors of the defensive line. He ranks second in team history with 553 tackles and 55 1-2 sacks.