Midway through the second quarter Saturday against Miami, Carolina Panthers center Ryan Kalil sat on a training table behind the bench with a bag of ice wrapped on his left knee.
It’s the last fans will see of the Pro Bowl center during the preseason.
Kalil will miss the final two exhibitions, against New England and Pittsburgh, after an MRI revealed a sprained knee ligament. The Panthers hope taking a cautious approach will have Kalil ready for Week 1 against the Jaguars.
“I think the thing we’re going to do is we’ll be smart this week and we’ll take a look as we go into the next couple of weeks,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Monday. “Again, the whole idea being what we want to do once we get to Jacksonville.”
Kalil was injured during a goalline series Saturday when Dolphins defensive tackle Earl Mitchell rolled on the back of his leg. He finished the series before icing the knee on the sideline and limping into the locker room before halftime.
He’s very valuable to us so we’re going to approach this cautiously.
Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera, on injured center Ryan Kalil
Kalil missed 11 games in 2012 after having surgery on his left foot to repair a Lisfranc injury. He came back to play every game during the 2013 and 2014 seasons, making his fourth Pro Bowl appearance in 2013.
“Again, he’s very valuable to us so we’re going to approach this cautiously,” Rivera said.
Backup center Brian Folkerts took the majority of the first-team snaps during Monday’s practice, but right tackle Mike Remmers also worked at center.
Remmers said he hadn’t played center since seventh grade when coaches approached him this year about taking some snaps. He lined up there in the first exhibition against Buffalo when backup quarterback Derek Anderson was behind center.
“It was awesome blocking for another Oregon State guy,” said Remmers, who was undrafted out of Oregon State in 2012. “It was pretty cool for me personally.”
The early development of rookie tackle Daryl Williams has given the Panthers more flexibility along the offensive line. Williams, a fourth-round pick from Oklahoma, held his own during the joint practices with the Dolphins last week in Spartanburg.
Williams worked at both tackle spots Monday, manning the right side when Remmers shifted to center.
It’s a completely different game being down at center.
Tackle Mike Remmers, who has filled in at center for Ryan Kalil
Remmers understands the value of versatility up front, and was happy to try his hand at center. He doesn’t remember who first mentioned it to him.
“One day I just got thrown in there and it worked out really well,” Remmers said. “I’ve been studying the playbook, trying to learn that whole aspect because it’s a completely different game being down at center.”
What’s Remmers’ favorite thing about playing center?
“It’s nice touching the football,” he said. “Usually as an offensive lineman it’s pretty bad if I’m handling a football. So it’s kind of cool playing football and handling the football.”
But Remmers is happy to stay at right tackle, especially if it means getting Kalil back in time for the opener.
“He’s our fearless leader,” Remmers said. “So I’m always completely confident in him, that he’ll make the right decision on whenever he’s ready to go.”