Jordan Gross retired early this offseason and left an open competition for the left tackle position. The only problem is that the Panthers may not have anyone ready to fill it. Ron Rivera isn’t sure which player he will pick to start to protect Cam Newton. Though it is not time to panic in Carolina.
“We’ve not decided on a lot of positions yet,” Rivera said, via the Associated Press. “The biggest thing we have right now is competition and guys working. … We’ll see how we are once we get into training camp.”
The main competitors for the position include Byron Bell, last year’s starting right tack, and Nate Chandler, a converted defensive tackle. But neither player has any left tackle experience on their NFL resumes, and thus the Panthers can’t be exuding confidence about the most important position on the offense line — the one that protects Superman’s blindside.
Garry Williams could also figure into the mix once he returns from his knee injury. According to the AP, the former two players don’t care which position they play. Perhaps they are just being political, but left tackle is one of the hardest to play in football. You have to want to play there. It’s worse than referee. In Week 1, they’ll be held accountable for Mario Williams. They get all the blame and none of the credit.
And while salary is not always a strong indicator of talent, Bell and Chandler will make a combined $2.6 million this season. That’s less than most left tackles make in a year.
If the Panthers can’t shore up the left tackle position, it’s going to be a long season for Cam Newton.