Carolina Panthers center Ryan Kalil saw the tips from fans on social media about bedding and pillows after he missed the past three games with what was originally described as a crick in his neck.
“It was a little more than that,” Kalil said. “But I appreciate all the well-wishes and the advice on pillows I could purchase. That was very nice of everyone.”
Kalil was able to smile about the situation Wednesday, but it was no laughing matter when he woke up the morning of the game against the Buffalo Bills in Week 2 and couldn’t move his neck.
Kalil said he’d hurt his neck earlier that week at practice, but didn’t think it was a big deal and hoped it would get better. It got worse, especially during pregame warmups when Kalil tried to loosen it up in an effort to play.
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Talking to reporters for the first time since being sidelined, Kalil declined to get into the specifics of the injury but said it’s not related to his shoulder surgery last season.
“It’s been pretty bad for a couple weeks,” Kalil said. “Monday’s the first day it started feeling better. So I’ve been able to come out on the field and start working out again, and hopefully get back out there soon.”
Kalil pushed the blocking sled and did other exercises Wednesday alongside his replacement Tyler Larsen, who is dealing with a shoulder issue. Kalil indicated Larsen’s injury wasn’t serious.
Kalil, a five-time Pro Bowler, didn’t give a timetable for his own return but said he’s heading in the right direction.
“It’s frustrating, especially coming back from missing the second part of last season and wanting to get out there and help the guys,” he said. “But I’m happy that I finally feel like I’ve turned the corner and get back out there soon.”
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he was excited to see Kalil back in some capacity, adding he’d continue with his rehab program.
Right guard Trai Turner, another Pro Bowler, also is glad Kalil is on the road to recovery.
“That’s a guy I don’t even think about, don’t worry about it,” Turner said. “I know as soon as he’s ready to go, he’ll be out there with us.”
Kalil hasn’t been around the locker room much, but he’s still been visible.
A new Bojangles commercial featuring Kalil and his brother Matt began airing recently. Kalil said the spot was filmed before training camp, and required a lot of takes “because Matt was struggling with his two lines that he had.”