Panthers offensive line in shambles after latest injury
Carolina Panthers left tackle Matt Kalil becomes latest offensive linemen to undergo surgery…
The Carolina Panthers entered 2018 with high expectations surrounding a revamped offense and new coordinator. During an offseason filled with changes, one of the only questions up front was who would replace guard Andrew Norwell after he left during free agency. Other than finding a suitable candidate, the Panthers appeared ready for big things with quarterback Cam Newton entering the season healthy behind an otherwise productive unit.
Fast forward about a month and the Panthers find themselves looking for answers at nearly every offensive line position. Starting right tackle Daryl Williams was the first to go down, tearing his MCL during training camp – enter second year tackle Taylor Moton, a promising young candidate now forced into action.
Following, Amini Silatolu, who had earned the starting guard position in Norwell’s absence, tore his meniscus and will be sidelined for six weeks or more – enter two candidates for replacement, journeyman Greg Van Roten and rookie Brendan Mahon.
At the time, coach Ron Rivera said all the right things about getting the guys ready to play. The coaches had to prepare who was available, in addition to plenty of other optimistic sayings associated around dealing with injuries. When asked about his level of concern regarding the offensive line depth two weeks ago, Rivera answered with the following according to Joe Person of The Charlotte Observer.
"“If we lose anybody else … If they come back with bad news (on Silatolu), obviously we’ll be concerned. We like where we are right now. We think we’ve got solid depth and we’ve got a couple of young guys we really have high hopes for, as well. So we just have to be really smart and hopefully lucky a little bit, too.”"
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Luck hasn’t been on the side of Carolina this preseason as Silatolu is out and now starting left tackle Matt Kalil is week to week after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his knee this past Monday – enter Moton (again) and let the shuffling begin.
Rivera can officially be concerned now as he and general manager Marty Hurney are sure to be scouring the league and making phone calls about potential replacements. There are a handful of proven candidates who could help out at guard or tackle in William Beatty, Alex Boone and Don Barclay, as all remain free agents but that in itself should be an indication of their perceived ability to make an impact.
Otherwise, the Panthers need to either make a trade or pick up someone who is released after every teams trim their rosters to the mandatory 53-players before the September 1 deadline. For now, Carolina is electing to go with Moton at left tackle, Van Roten at left guard, veteran center Ryan Kalil, right guard Trai Turner and free agent signee Jeremiah Sirles at right tackle.
Keep in mind the elder Kalil played in just six regular season games last year and eight during 2016, although Tyler Larsen has proven to be a serviceable replacement in times of need.
Hopefully, Moton, Van Roten, Sirles and Mahon (if needed) perform just as well.