I try not to use the Star puns, apologies in advance for this one.
Dwan Edwards practiced for the first time in a month - he was one of
the Buffalo casualties - and that's just in time.
While Star Lotulelei battled on without Edwards, and Kawann Short has
taken on some of the slack with good performance, Loeulelei has battled
since the bye. Usually, the bye week is a good thing, especially for
young players who might hit the rookie wall. Lotulelei was
near-dominant before the bye, but after, he's struggled.
One reason is that, with Colin Cole on board, the team has more talent
at NT. Consequently, Lotulelei has played more three-technique, and a
few more snaps at it. Has he struggled to fit at the 3-tech? Possibly.
It's been my pre-draft position that he can play it, and well - for a
couple of games he moved between the two just fine - but the rotation,
and Star specifically, has had some growing pains without Edwards.
That bore its weight most specifically against Minnesota. A great run
defense game for the team overall, Lotulelei dipped in
profootballfocus.com's ratings under Zero for the first time as a pro,
notching a -2.8 with equal issues against run and pass. Brandon Fusco
is not an incredible guard, though Lotulelei did move around a bit.
So with Edwards practicing, there's a hope that Lotulelei can just get
back to being a nose again for a while. Unless there's a nagging injury
that's not being mentioned, or teams are just loading him down because
he had a fairly dominant 4 game stretch, hopefully that retains the
order of things from early this season. For now, Carolina can't afford
to have an unproductive Lotulelei.