Ryan Kalil has been walking around with a protective boot on his right foot so long the Carolina Panthers center forgot to bring his sneaker to Bank of America Stadium on Friday.
So Kalil spent a couple more hours in the boot, but it’s coming off Sunday.
Kalil said he’s going to start and expects to play the entire game when the Panthers (7-0) host Green Bay (6-1) in a matchup in which the winner will have the upper hand for home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs.
Kalil, a four-time Pro Bowler, sustained a high ankle sprain in the third quarter of the Panthers’ 27-16 victory over Philadelphia on Oct. 25. He finished the game against the Eagles but was sidelined for Monday night’s victory against Indianapolis.
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“It got pretty swollen after that (Eagles) game. We’re already going and all the adrenaline, you can fight through stuff. Then the next day it just plumped up,” Kalil said Friday. “We were hoping with the Monday game, get a little extra time to try to get some of that swelling out and just couldn’t get it down in time enough.”
We’re already going and all the adrenaline, you can fight through stuff. Then the next day it just plumped up.
Panthers center Ryan Kalil, on a high ankle sprain suffered against Philadelphia two weeks ago
Kalil is listed as probable on the official injury report but said in no uncertain teams he expects to play against the Packers. Kalil also dismissed a suggestion that he might share time with backup Fernando Velasco, who replaced Kalil against the Colts.
Getting Kalil back would be a boost any week, but Panthers coach Ron Rivera said his return will be particularly beneficial against the Packers’ 3-4 defense.
Kalil is responsible for identifying defensive fronts and making the appropriate line calls. He said that can be tricky against a Packers defense that sometimes lines up outside linebackers Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews inside.
“They’re big up front, but those guys can move. And Julius Peppers will come inside and Clay Matthews will come inside, and those guys are pretty incredible athletes,” Kalil said. “So there’s a lot of diversity there in what they do and mixing up the fronts.”
While Kalil is back, the Panthers will be missing another starter up front: Left guard Andrew Norwell is out after straining his hamstring against the Colts.
Amini Silatolu, the second-round pick in 2012, will start in place of Norwell.
He has a real nice look in his eye right now.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera on guard Amini Silatolu
Rivera said Silatolu was competing well with Norwell in training camp before a calf injury set him back. Silatolu, who has 25 career starts, played the second half against Indianapolis and impressed Rivera on a play in which he pulled and opened a hole for running back Jonathan Stewart.
“It was classic Amini. The promise you saw when we first got him and he was developing as a young guy, and then his second season before he got hurt you saw that promise,” Rivera said. “And he has a real nice look in his eye right now.”
Kalil and Silatolu didn’t have much practice time together this week, but Kalil is not concerned.
“I’ve played with Amini a ton in the past so I’m not worried about him coming in,” he said. “I think he’ll do a great job for us. And he has so far.”
Kalil, 30, bounced back quickly from his high ankle sprain, an injury that often sidelines players for four to six weeks. Defensive tackle Dwan Edwards will miss his third consecutive game Sunday with a high ankle sprain.
“I think part of that’s just with experience, with getting nicked up and stuff,” Kalil said. “I think when you’re younger it’s hard to kind of gauge what you can do and what you can’t.”
Kalil was headed home Friday afternoon to find his other Nike running shoe. He wasn’t expecting much sympathy from his wife.
“When I was younger, I used to be able to milk (injuries) a lot more. But now that she has three kids it doesn’t matter,” he said, laughing. “I could come back home with neither of my legs working and she’ll say ‘you’re on your own.’ And rightfully so.”