Inside the Panthers

Exclusive: ‘Pretty serious injury’ hasn’t altered Panthers center Ryan Kalil’s plan

Panthers center Ryan Kalil (in cap) hasn’t played in more than a month because of a neck injury. But Kalil expects to return before the end of the season.
Panthers center Ryan Kalil (in cap) hasn’t played in more than a month because of a neck injury. But Kalil expects to return before the end of the season. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Ryan Kalil has been sidelined for more than a month and has only played in five quarters all season.

But the Panthers’ Pro Bowl center told the Observer on Thursday he believes he’ll play again at some point this season.

“Yeah, I do,” Kalil said. “I don’t think they’d let me take up a roster spot if they didn’t think I would be able to.”

Kalil has been dealing with a neck issue since Week 2 that neither he nor the Panthers has fully explained. Thursday he called it a “pretty serious injury,” but one that is improving.

Kalil was active against the Jets last week in the event of an emergency, according to Panthers coach Ron Rivera. He was listed as limited on Thursday’s injury report.

Kalil last played in Week 7 at Chicago, but came out after the first quarter after aggravating his neck. He says he’s trying to avoid repeating that scenario. In the meantime, Tyler Larsen has continued to start at center.

But Kalil maintains he’ll be back, and says he plans to play beyond this season as well. Kalil, who has an $8 million cap number this year, is signed through the 2018 season.

“I’m working on getting healthy and getting stronger and that’s all I think about it,” he said. “I don’t think about anything other than the now.”

Joseph Person: 704-358-5123, @josephperson

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