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Panthers' Kalil doesn’t regret Super Bowl ad

NEW ORLEANS The Super Bowl is going on without Carolina Panthers center Ryan Kalil.

There will be no parade down Tryon Street for Kalil and the Panthers this year – just a walk around the block that Kalil made with his wife and two young daughters Tuesday while the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers participated in Media Day at the Superdome.

In July Kalil took out a full-page ad in the Observer, predicting the Panthers would end their season in New Orleans, hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.

Things didn't go as planned – for Kalil, who underwent season-ending foot surgery in October, or the Panthers, who started the season 1-5 and were an NFL afterthought the rest of the way.

So while Super Bowl week began in earnest Tuesday, Kalil was in Charlotte, rehabbing his left foot and hanging out with his family.

He figured he would be hearing from reporters.

“It didn't work out? What do you mean?” Kalil said jokingly. “The Super Bowl's this week?”

Kalil said he has no regrets about taking out the ad, which prompted Panthers coach Ron Rivera to distribute T-shirts to players inscribed with the message, 'I have Ryan Kalil's back,' on the back.

Though it raised expectations for a team coming off a 6-10 season in Rivera's first year, Kalil does not view that as a bad thing.

“Look, I have no misconception about how hard it is to win in this league. But I'm not the kind of guy who can buy into managing expectations or rebuilding,” he said. “Maybe I'm wrong, but that's just not how I feel.”

Playing loose and confident with the pressure off, the Panthers won five of their final six games to finish 7-9 and buy Rivera at least one more season. But Kalil said the team needs to figure out how to win the close games that crippled them the first half of the season if they want to become a legitimate playoff contender.

“We haven't won a Super Bowl and recently we haven't been winning a whole lot. And that's disappointing,” Kalil said in a phone interview. “I think looking at where we were at the end of last year (2011) and the talent we had and some of things we were doing in the offseason, I felt very good about this team. I think there's a big difference between hoping to win and expecting to win. And I expected this team to win a lot more games.”

Kalil sustained a Lisfranc injury – a rupture of the ligaments in his foot – against Seattle in Week 5. After the Panthers lost their next game against Dallas, owner Jerry Richardson fired general manager Marty Hurney and told Rivera the team needed to “trend upward” for him to keep his job. Richardson retained Rivera after the strong finish, although several of his assistants left or were fired.

“I think the last few games are evidence enough about how players feel about Ron and his staff,” Kalil said. “I've seen other teams shut it down and wait for the organization to hit the reset button, and I'm glad we didn't do that.”

For the continuity of the offense and quarterback Cam Newton, Kalil said he was glad to see quarterbacks coach Mike Shula get promoted to offensive coordinator after Rob Chudzinski left to become Cleveland's coach.

“For who we have and what we do, I think that's the best thing,” Kalil said. “He wasn't somebody who was just a quarterbacks coach and we're giving him a shot. He was somebody who was very involved in what we did.”

Kalil has been out of the protective boot on his foot for about a month and expects to be 100 percent for training camp in July.

He has no plans to take out another ad, joking that he will not be helping out the newspaper industry in the near future.

“No, probably not,” he said. “That will not be an annual thing.”

Person: 704-358-5123; Twitter: @josephperson
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