By now, we’ve all heard and read about the Carolina Panthers wanting to be more physical and more like the Pittsburgh Steelers. That old nugget has be repeated more times this offseason than any of us care to count.
The offensive linemen who have gathered in Charlotte, however, reflect that direction. The new additions to the team are huge. (Jeff Otah, 6-6, 330; Keydrick Vincent, 6-5, 325; Milford Brown, 6-5, 330; Toniu Fonoti, 6-4, 340) Now, you can start adding some more beef to that group with Geoff Hangartner, a hold over from last season who can play both guard and center. He’s been bulking up a bit.
More after the jump!
“I weigh about 318, 320 right now; that’s as heavy as I’ve ever been,” Hangartner said after Monday’s “summer school” practice session. “I feel like I still move alright. Obviously if I’m 305 I’m probably quicker than I am at 320 or 318. They want us to be bigger so I put some weight on; it’s not that big of a deal.”
“If I was 350 pounds, I’d be the fattest person out here by far,” he said, grinning through the sweat.
Bulking up might help him. I can assure you, though, that every buffet operator in the city is nervous. Imagine this group of guys, all seeking to bulk up and maintain that size, walking into your establishment to eat. That might be the time to fire up an extra grill.
Hangartner has been eating more and bulking up but he’s hoping to get some playing time rather than standing on the sidelines.
“Yeah, you always want to be a starter; I don’t play football to be a backup, stand on the sidelines and watch the game. But I understand they want to get bigger, and I’m never going to be a 350-pound guy. Obviously they got some big dudes during the offseason. That’s the way they’re wanting to go, so I understand.”
He was asked how the new, economy-sized line was doing so far.
“You never really know until you get in pads,” Hangartner said. “We’ve shown flashes of being really big and physical, but you’re never going to really know that until you get into training camp and play against somebody else.
“We’ve got the look for sure; we look like we could be that. But you never really know until you put pads on. This is just like a glorified walk-through, more or less. This isn’t all that physical.”
There are some huge bodies out there competing. No matter who winds up starting we know that our offensive line will be bigger than last year. There is lineman who isn’t in the business of bulking up, though.
Jordan Gross, widely recognized as the leader of the Panthers offensive line, says he won’t be adding any additional weight.
Gross, who is 6-4 and 300 pounds, said he’s comfortable with his playing weight and doesn’t see how adding pounds will benefit him or the team. So, when it was suggested by offensive line coach Dave Magazu that he pack on a few pounds this past off-season, Gross politely declined.
“I haven’t changed in about nine years and I don’t think it’s really time to do that,” Gross said. “(Magazu) has talked to me about it, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.
“I don’t think that gaining 10 pounds is going to change my game tremendously, so I will stay with what I’m comfortable at.”
Gross, who is making the move from right to left tackle, believes he still needs quickness to handle the NFL’s speed rushers.
“I don’t think 10 pounds is going to make me any stronger and it might just slow me down a little bit, so I don’t want to sacrifice any of that speed,” said Gross, whose contract expires after the season.
In this case, it might not be such a bad thing if Gross doesn’t add a bunch of weight. A left tackle has to be somewhat nimble and be able to move rather quickly to handle some of the best pass rushers in the business.