It was a huge blow to the Carolina Panthers offense when veteran center Ryan Kalil had to finish the 2016 season on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.
Kalil, who required surgery, was referred to by Panthers quarterback Cam Newton as the “middle linebacker of the offense” last season because of Kalil’s expertise and responsibility when setting the line and calling defensive checkdowns.
On Wednesday, Kalil said that he is not cleared from the rehabilitation process yet and will be unable to go full-contact in drills. He was also limited in the spring.
“We still have some rehab to do,” he said as the team reported to the dorms at Wofford College. “But I’ll be ready to go by Game 1.”
Newton is expected to throw with full capability after a long spring spent rehabilitating his throwing arm after surgery to repair a partially vtorn rotator cuff. He and Kalil need to re-gain the rhythm they have had since Newton entered the league, but as a 10-year veteran, Kalil said he wasn’t unduly worried about getting back to normal with Newton.
Behind Kalil is backup Gino Gradkowski, who also finished the season on injured reserve after hurting his knee. Gradkowski also required surgery, and third-string center Tyler Larsen was brought in and performed well despite the circumstances.
Kalil carpooled with his brother Matt, Carolina’s new left tackle signed in free agency from Minnesota for five years and $55.5 million, to Spartanburg.
“He got fired as DJ about 20 minutes into the drive,” joked the older Kalil. “(It was) a lot of weird ‘house’ music, I don’t know. Must have been something he picked up in Minnesota.”