Carolina Panthers starting right tackle Daryl Williams suffered a right knee injury halfway through Saturday’s practice at Wofford College.
The Panthers later announced that he had suffered a dislocated patella and media collateral ligament (MCL) tear.
The Panthers did not provide a timetable for his recovery.
A source close to the situation told the Observer that Williams will not have surgery at this point, and instead the plan is to see how the beginning of his rehabilitation will go.
“I just remember my foot getting stuck in the ground and kind of buckling,” Williams told the Panthers of the non-contact injury, adding that it was the worst pain he’s ever felt.
Williams had to be carted off the field. He was taken to Charlotte to be evaluated.
Saturday was the team’s first day in pads.
Williams backpedaled during team drills to contain his man, and his right leg appeared to crumple beneath him. He yelled in pain, and players knelt as trainers rushed to attend to him. Many veterans stayed with Williams as he was helped onto the cart by defensive tackle Kawann Short and the Panthers medical staff.
“It got real quiet and it just sort of hits you in the stomach,” said defensive end Wes Horton.
“It was tough. It really was,” said head coach Ron Rivera. “We were kind of floating a little bit right there, especially on the offensive side. You could see it, you could sense it. It’s one of those things, it takes the wind out of your sails a little bit.”
Williams started every game at right tackle for the Panthers last season, earning second-team All-Pro honors.
“You never want to see a player like that go down. ...(He) has done such an exceptional job of battling to get the credit that he has deserved, the notoriety this past year and coming into his own this year,” said quarterback Cam Newton, who added that he felt optimistic about Williams’ prognosis. “You hate to see certain things like that. But I believe that everything will be all right, hoping everything will be all right.”
Williams, 25, was a fourth-round pick by the Panthers in 2015 who is now entering a contract year.
Negotiations began this spring between the Panthers and Williams’ camp, but a source told the Observer that there was a “monster gap” between the club and the player financially.
As practice continued, second-year guard/tackle Taylor Moton took over the starting right-tackle position.
He will likely continue to do so for the duration of Williams’ recovery.
“I’m not quite sure what happened (to Williams),” he said after practice. “As soon as I saw it happen, I immediately got on a knee and prayed for him. My heart goes out to him. I pray for a speedy recovery. ...
“He’s been a great mentor to me. Sitting back and watching how he plays day in and day out ... I know he means a lot to the team.”
Moton, a second-round pick out of Western Michigan in 2017, has been competing for the vacancy at left guard. But last year, Rivera mentioned that Moton had largely been getting tackle snaps in practices, and he played limited snaps in games. He was only used as the extra tackle in Carolina’s short-yardage “Jumbo” package.
But Moton feels confident that he can step in.
“It doesn’t matter where they put me. If it’s right tackle right now, so be it,” he said. “I feel comfortable. I feel very confident ... My mindset is, wherever they put me is my best position. If that’s right tackle, then that’s my best position.”