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Carolina Panthers’ Nate Chandler to start at right tackle; guard spot still undecided

Nate Chandler will start at right tackle for the Carolina Panthers against Tampa Bay on Sunday, but the right guard position is still undecided, head coach Ron Rivera said.

Rookie Trai Turner has had to fend off a groin injury and veteran Fernando Velasco for the starting job in recent weeks, and Rivera likes what he’s seen from Velasco, a fifth-year lineman.

“In all fairness to Velasco, those two guys have worked; they’ve shared time,” Rivera said. “We’ll sit down and talk about it as coaches as we get closer to game time.”

Velasco’s solid preseason play, as well as strong preseasons from undrafted rookies Andrew Norwell and David Foucault, meant Chris Scott getting cut last week. Velasco’s versatility – he’s also able to play center – helped him earn a roster spot.

Velasco got the start at center last week against Pittsburgh while Ryan Kalil rested. Turner has not played since the second exhibition, and Rivera has said even if Turner gets the start, he’ll still be spelled by Velasco.

At right tackle, Nate Chandler has won the starting job, but Rivera said he’s fortunate to have a competent backup in Garry Williams.

Chandler has played multiple positions since college, and this is his first full season at right tackle.

“Nate's done a really nice job for us. Again, that's a work in progress,” Rivera said. “We're not going to kid ourselves, two seasons ago he was a defensive lineman. Last year he got (six) starts as our guard, but he played left tackle in college. He has that kind of athleticism and ability.”

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