The Carolina Panthers have settled on a starting left tackle, or are at least so close to doing so that for all intents and purposes the matter has been decided.
Per Panthers head coach Ron Rivera (via Black and Blue Review), the competition is all-but-over between Byron Bell and Nate Chandler. And the winner is… Byron Bell.
“He’s done such a good job. I’m going to say it; it’s a fait accompli,” Rivera said. “He and I will sit down and have a conversation about it. I’m going to sit down and talk with the coaches and make sure we’re all set, confident and comfortable.”
The 340-pound Bell was signed by the Panthers as an undrafted free agent out of New Mexico in 2011. In his three years in Carolina he’s started 47 games at right tackle. Now Bell will shift to the left tackle position which will put him in line for much more scrutiny from fans and the media.
Rivera for his part doesn’t seem worried about Bell’s ability to make the transition to the left:
“He’s done some things on the left side that he didn’t do on the right side that have been impressive,” Rivera said. “But the biggest thing we keep forgetting is, he’s a natural left-hander.
“His punch is a lot better, and his first step is a little bit better. Again that’s because he’s working off his left side. Having seen that, I have confidence that he can do the job for us.”
Cam Newton also hopes that Bell can do the job, because Bell is now his blind side protector.