As expected, Carolina Panthers right guard Chris Scott has been ruled out of Sunday’s game after spraining his right knee last week against the Atlanta Falcons. Former defensive tackle Nate Chandler, who took over after Scott and backup Jeff Byers (foot) both went down against the Falcons, will make his first career start against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday at 4:05 p.m.
Veteran guard Geoff Hangartner, who re-signed for a third stint with the Panthers this week, will rotate with Chandler as Hangartner gets back into football shape, Rivera said.
When Hangartner is in the game for his expected 12-15 snaps, the Panthers will have their starting line from Rivera’s first season in 2011: center Ryan Kalil, guards Travelle Wharton and Hangartner and tackles Byron Bell and Jordan Gross.
“That’s what’s crazy. It’s almost like it’s gone full circle. This could potentially be the line that we started with,” Rivera said. “But the elements are there. The thing that I like is the guys we have are all smart guys that have played together. They’re comfortable with each other and Cam (Newton) has a lot of confidence in that group of guys because he knows them.”
Wharton, who missed the 2012 season with Cincinnati after tearing his ACL, re-signed with Carolina in August after injuries to offensive linemen Bruce Campbell and rookie Edmund Kugbila.
The line will be tested by San Francisco’s 3-4 defense. The Panthers haven’t faced a three-man front since a 22-6 loss to Arizona in Week 5, when they gave up a season-high seven sacks.
But four of those sacks came in the second half after the Panthers had fallen behind.
“It will be interesting to see how we handle it,” Rivera said. “If we can have success early, we can probably dictate the things that they’re going to try to do against us.”
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