I can't imagine that the Travelle Wharton signing was going to be any
more obvious than anything else Carolina could've done since they saw
Star Lotulelei drop to their draft pick.
But the end result is, they already have a guy they've thrown at LG to
replace him. Amini Silatolu - who actually looked good at the end of
last season before somehow regressing a bit this year.
Carolina has stated he's a guard. And that makes sense. The Observer
at one point attempted to pin him down at tackle, suggesting he'd
supplant Byron Bell at RT. And I never would've assumed that to happen
anymore than it's going to happen. It's highly unlikely.
But Carolina hasn't signed Wharton for sentimentality. At this point,
I think it's reasonable to suggest that he'll start at LG for now. And
that's fine. On paper, if Wharton is who he was, run blocking will take
a bit of a hit but pass protection will improve. There won't be a
learning curve for the 10 year vet, stepping back in from being signed
Sunday, that there remains to be for Silatolu, who's been in the
building for a year, or Ed Kugbila at RG, who has one full practice
under his belt as a pro (and not in pads).
Wharton at LG makes sense. Now the left side of the line is sound. If
Gross, who struggled last week against Terrell Suggs, can get back to
respectability, it should be a good left side. And I think Bell is
good enough to be the RT right now. Bell got somewhat unfairly beaten
down by fans for being an undrafted - and then chastised for his play in
preseason at LT, where he should never line up - but is about what this
team wants in a RT. Bell, I believe, gave up fewer sacks than Gross
So that leaves RG.
Does the team attempt to move Silatolu, still nursing a hamstring, to
RG? If so, will that even have impact week 1?
I'm never in favor of moving linemen from one side to the other, and
was surprised the team attempted it with the second string line of
career right sider Bell (LT) and career left sider Bruce Campbell (RT,
and now playing the left side of injured reserve). That's why I haven't
plugged Wharton in at RG. A career left sider, he's never really played
on the right side at any level that I'm aware. Same for Silatolu.
SO that leaves the question - do you move Silatolu, who's inevitably
better than Garry Williams at RG despite having never played there.
Line coach John Matsko hasn't hesitated to move a guy around, most
notably former 1st rounder Michael Oher, who constantly flipped left and
right tackle spots. So maybe Silatolu will find time on the right side.
I just don't know how well it'll work.
That's all speculation. It might be weeks before everyone's healthy
enough to know where everyone will go.