The Carolina Panthers could be down to their third center Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs – a reserve who also happens to be the second-team guard and tackle, too.
Veteran Chris Scott doesn’t say a lot, but the former University of Tennessee lineman does a lot for the Panthers’ offense. And that could mean starting this weekend in a key intraconference game.
With starter Ryan Kalil (sprained right shoulder) and No. 2 center Gino Gradkowski (knee) both dealing with injuries, Scott has taken the snaps this week with the first-team offense.
“He’s battled his way into a position where he’s our primary backup for guard and tackle. And he’s our third center,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Thursday. “He’s done a nice job. Kudos to him for as hard as he works.”
Rivera will know more about the status of his top two centers Friday and Saturday.
Kalil injured his shoulder in a victory over Arizona on Oct. 30 and the former Southern Cal star sat out his homecoming game last week in Los Angeles. Gradkowski played all 64 offensive snaps against the Rams, but experienced swelling in his knee in the days after the game.
Rivera said Kalil and Gradkowski worked on the side, adding it was important for Scott to get the first-team reps in case he winds up starting.
Scott, 29, who worked at center during the preseason, started a career-high eight games at guard in 2013 because of injuries. He made his first start this season last week at L.A. – as an extra, blocking tight end, another one of his many roles.
Rivera said he likes the way Scott responded to the four-game suspension he served at the start of the season for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drugs policy.
“He was very forthright, honest about it. He paid his penalty and at the same time he showed us he was really serious about trying to get things corrected,” Rivera said. “He knows he’s been on a short tether. But he’s done a great job and that’s why we stuck with him.”