Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera sounded optimistic that Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil will play in his hometown this weekend after all.
Kalil, who grew up in the Los Angeles area and starred at Southern Cal, is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Rams.
Kalil missed a third consecutive practice Friday, but his work on the side with head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion left Rivera hopeful. Kalil, who sprained his right shoulder last weekend against Arizona, hit the blocking sled for about 10 minutes during the portion of practice open to the media.
“It was pretty encouraging to see Ryan today striking the pads and all that stuff and listening to what (the trainers) told me,” Rivera said. “But again, (Saturday) will be a big day. You’ve always got to see how a guy reacts to all that kind of work.”
Kalil will be with his teammates when the charter leaves for L.A. on Friday afternoon. He declined an interview request through a Panthers spokesman.
Perhaps for a bit of insurance, Carolina promoted guard Tyler Larsen from the practice squad and waived tight end Scott Simonson on Friday afternoon.
Outside linebacker Shaq Thompson, who injured his left knee against the Cardinals, is out for the first time this season. Rookie defensive tackle Vernon Butler (ankle) and left tackle Michael Oher (concussion protocol) remain out.
Middle linebacker Luke Kuechly and defensive end Mario Addison both sat for the second consecutive day with groin injuries, but Rivera expects both to play against the Rams.
“(Kuechly) did what he needed to do and then we shut him down, as we did with Mario,” Rivera said.
Kuechly, Addison and rookie cornerback Daryl Worley (triceps) are all questionable.