Carolina Panthers starting left tackle Matt Kalil was absent from a second consecutive practice on Monday.
A source told the Observer that he was having issues with his knee, and that the team was still in the process of evaluating the problem. The source said there would likely be more clarity in the coming days.
Head coach Ron Rivera said after Monday’s practice that Kalil was dealing with “knee soreness” that had plagued him some in training camp (he missed a day in Spartanburg as well).
“It’s the one that he’s been kind of working through camp, and it all just kind of came to a head,” said Rivera. “So we’ll have to evaluate it and we’ll go from here.
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“It was something that just kind of kicked up a little bit in camp. We just want to be careful with it and we’ll go from there.”
Carolina is already without starting right tackle Daryl Williams, who tore his MCL and dislocated his patella the first week of training camp, and starting left guard Amini Silatolu, who tore his meniscus a week later.
“Absolutely concerned,” said Rivera. “You’ve got three potential starters right now that are missing time. It’s going to be tough. But as coaches, we have to continue to do the best job to make sure everybody gets prepared.”
While there are some promising up-and-comers filling in at those spots - Taylor Moton has stepped in nicely at right tackle and third-string center Greg Van Roten has showed some real talent at left guard - the depth at left tackle is scarce.
Moton, by far the most talented of the available options, would likely shift over to left tackle if Kalil is unable to play and has done so at practice the last two days. In his rookie season last year, he played swing tackle as the extra body in the “Jumbo” package.
“A guy like that can show his flexibility, and it’s coming at a good time for us,” said Rivera. “We’re really pleased with that.”
That would mean backup guard/tackle Jeremiah Sirles and backup Blaine Clausell would be tested at the right tackle position.
If the Panthers use the likely option to place Williams on injured reserve to start the season, the re-shuffling on the right side would continue for eight weeks. Moton has played the position well to this point, but has had to switch-hit this week, which challenges the rotation on the right.
“A lot depends on where (Williams) is in terms of his rehab,” said Rivera. “It’s been going well. But there’s really no timetable right now, I guess probably until his next exam. Same thing with (Silatolu), he’s been doing really well. But there is no timetable until they can see the doctor and see how their progress has been.”
Jourdan Rodrigue: 704-358-5071; @jourdanrodrigue