Panthers veteran left tackle Jordan Gross underwent arthroscopic ankle surgery last week and is recovering well, coach Ron Rivera said Thursday night.
Rivera called the surgery a successful “clean-out,” though he was uncertain which ankle was involved.
“It was time,” Rivera said. “So they cleaned it out and he feels great.”
Gross, 32, played in all 16 games last season and has missed just one start over the past three seasons. He has started a team-record 151 games, passing former wideout Muhsin Muhammad last season for the franchise lead.
Gross, a two-time Pro Bowler entering his 11th season, has been mentioned as a player who could have his contract restructured as the Panthers look to get under the reported $123 million salary cap by March 12.
Gross, signed through 2014, is scheduled to make $8.7 million this year, with a cap figure of $11.7 million.
While some have suggested the Panthers could cut Gross, Rivera believes he is still playing at a high level.
“I think he’s a solid performer and you want a guy like that on your team, too,” Rivera said. “He’s a big-time leader.”
Talking to Te’o: Rivera said the Panthers met informally at the scouting combine with former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, whose draft status took a hit after he ran a slow 40-yard dash and struggled in position drills in Indianapolis.
Te’o has been the most talked-about prospect since January when it was revealed he was the victim of an apparent hoax involving a fake, dead girlfriend. Rivera said the Panthers spoke to Te’o about Xs-and-Os.
“We tried to find out what the football acumen is more so than anything else,” he said.
The Panthers used their first-round pick in 2012 on linebacker Luke Kuechly, who won AP Defensive Rookie of the Year honors after leading the league in tackles.
“With the success we had last year drafting Luke, I’m not sure linebacker will be a high priority for us,” Rivera said.
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