Carolina Panthers backup center Tyler Larsen may get a different opportunity in 2018…
Two years ago, in the midst of a disappointing 6-10 Carolina Panthers season, a reserve offensive lineman shined the brightest. Following injuries to veteran center and captain Ryan Kalil, in addition to his backup Gino Gradkowski, the team turned to Tyler Larsen.
The former undrafted Utah State center who had spent time with two NFL teams prior to landing in Carolina, took to the field and has never looked back. Larsen filled in admirably for both and played his way into a one-year contract after being activated from the practice squad.
That contract was renewed this spring for another year and Larsen may be setting himself up for a significant payday next offseason. Not only has Larsen proven capable of backing up Kalil, which he did again for a majority of last season, but the departure of All-Pro guard Andrew Norwell left a significant hole on the offensive line.
While many expected last year’s second-round pick, Taylor Moton, to slide into the guard role, it was Larsen who received the most opportunity during the first full day of Organized Team Activities (OTAs).
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At 6-foot-4 and 325 pounds, Larsen is only slightly shorter than Norwell and played alongside the emerging star for a significant amount of snaps over the past two seasons. His knowledge of the offensive line and understanding of the role a guard plays alongside the center will benefit him immediately.
Moton is currently listed as a tackle and played outside for a majority of his football career other than a brief stint at guard in 2015 at Western Michigan. His transition inside at the NFL level may take more time but the competition during training camp is expected to be fierce.
If healthy, both are expected to make the final 53-man roster in September given their skill sets and versatility. Playing on a position group that requires significant depth, each should see a lot of playing time in 2018, regardless of where they begin the season.
Larsen played his way into a starting position once and may very well do so again at guard this preseason.