Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers excited to face former teammate Byron Bell

Former Panthers lineman Byron Bell (76) will start at right tackle against Carolina on Sunday in Nashville.
Former Panthers lineman Byron Bell (76) will start at right tackle against Carolina on Sunday in Nashville. AP

The Carolina Panthers will see a familiar face when they play the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

Former Carolina left tackle Byron Bell is now starting at right tackle for Tennessee after the Panthers decided not to re-sign him in the offseason.

Bell had been playing at left guard, but a recent head coaching change brought a new philosophy.

Last week, quarterback Marcus Mariota wasn’t sacked with a new offensive line configuration against the New Orleans Saints. He had been sacked 19 times in five games.

This week, Panthers defensive end Mario Addison expressed his excitement going up against Bell in a game after years of doing it in practice and training camps.

“A guy like Bell, he’s going to be overaggressive. I like when he’s overaggressive,” Addison said. “I like guys that throw hands. It just makes me speed mine up. I know he’s going to be pumped, because you’re always pumped when you’re playing against your old team. It’s going to be a good challenge.”

Bell signed with Carolina as an undrafted free agent in 2011 and became the starter at right tackle. He played well there for three years before being asked to play left tackle in 2014 following Jordan Gross’ retirement.

The experiment didn’t work out well. Bell struggled regularly in pass protection, and Carolina opted to let him walk in free agency and signed Michael Oher.

“I just remember how solid of a football player he was for us,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “He did the best he could. We put him in a tough position and he tried to answer the bell. Him as a right tackle is probably his more natural position. He was athletic enough and he was willing to try at left tackle for us. I think he’s a good, young football player who’s getting better and better still.”

  Comments