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Panthers coach Ron Rivera: Next left tackle could be on current roster

Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera doesn’t know who will replace the best and most consistent left tackle in franchise history, but he thinks the answer could be on the roster.

Jordan Gross, who officially announced his retirement Wednesday, also thinks the Panthers have possibilities within the team, including right guard Nate Chandler and right tackle Byron Bell.

“There’s a lot of guys that could do it,” Gross said. “There’s a lot of open holes now, and if guys want to make their careers take off, there’s no better job than to be a starting left tackle.

“I think Byron Bell takes way too much heat. In my opinion, I think he’s developing into a very good player. ... Nate was a D-lineman a year ago. He started (nine) games for us, did a good job.”

Rivera said the Panthers plan to look into the draft and free agency for the next left tackle.

“I’ve got a lot of faith what (director of pro scouting) Mark Koncz and his staff have done in terms of getting a list ready for us,” Rivera said. “And again, not just at the tackle position but the other positions that we feel we need to have answers for. I also feel very good about what potential may be out there in the draft. We just got back from the combine and we feel it’s a pretty strong and a pretty deep (draft class for) offensive line.

“And maybe the answer is on our own roster. We have to take a look at that. We have a lot of quality young men who played well for us and we’ve got to find out if one of them could be the answer as well.”

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