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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Days Off Underline OL Issues

It's necessary to give some of your leaders time off in camp. You
could argue it's earned by good play; you could argue it's critical to
make sure your best guys aren't at too much risk when they don't need
every rep.

Carolina has done that recently with Jordan Gross and Ryan Kalil, and
that has helped show what I'd consider the team weakness - their line
depth and quality.

The team had choices to make with limited resources- minimal cap room
and only six draft picks. They spent one on man-child Ed Kugbila, but
otherwise, they returned what they had from last year and had to be
hopeful for growth. Most teams have only so much depth behind good
players, but Carolina's frightfully exposed on the OL.

With Gross out, you get the uninspiring Bruce Campbell. Campbell is
physically what you want in a LT, but while he gets criticized in league
circles for what might be a lack of smarts, it's also hard to say that
he's got the effort in his play necessary to make it all happen.
That's one thing - and the team doesn't have anything of worth behind
Amini Silatolu at LG. Silatolu grew into himself over the season before
getting hurt, so at least on paper you can say the left side is solid.
The stats seem to bear that out. Silatolu appears leaner this year as
well, which can't hurt him in pass protection, his weakness early in
'12.

But RG is a wasteland. While Geoff Hangartner was an ideal situation
in 2011 as a replacement, 2012 was a step down. 2013 doesn't look to be
any better. Kugbila, who shouldn't be expected to make major waves at
RG yet anyway, didn't get much work in over the offseason due to nagging
leg injuries, and there are concerns that he's not in good enough shape.
Is it due to the injury? Was the injury due to poor conditioning?
It's hard to say, but they seem additive, and that means that anything
that happens this year for Kugbila is a bonus. You're left hoping that
either the light comes on while he's being supervised this year, or that
a better supervised offseason gets him there.

So when the team gave Kalil (coming off injury) time off yesterday?
Hangartner moves back to center, where he's able to play but has
struggled harder in the last number of years (including his time in
Buffalo). You get Garry Williams, who won't push Hangartner, at RG.

Williams has occasionally started, but never on purpose or intent.
He's somehow the best backup option the team has behind Hangartner
himself. That the team thinks it can't do better than Williams for $1
million in salary is amazing.

I don't know what the salary requirements are for Brandon Moore, but
I'd implore Dave Gettleman to spend more time talking to Moore about
coming in and being a legitimate starter (and less time stirring the
media pot). Travelle Wharton, as well, would be at home - that would
bring the line depth where it needs to be. Dropping at least one from
within - maybe Williams, maybe Campbell - would at least help pay for
things.

Leaving the other on staff would give the team two legitimate backup OL
to pair with Wharton, and give the team five good starters.
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