The drop-off from the first to second string offensive line was apparent in the Panthers preseason debut. On the first play Daryl Williams took the field as left tackle, the Ravens came up with a strip-sack where they also recovered the fumble. The run game looked non-existent and Derek Anderson looked fugitive on the run, and we know he can't run very well.
Yesterday, news broke that the Panthers met worked out former NY Giant Will Beatty and former San Diego Charger (and ECU Pirate) Willie Smith. Today, Carolina signed Willie Smith to help add some depth at the tackle position.
Few think of Mike Remmers or Michael Oher as elite offensive tackles in this league. They are serviceable, however. Remmers, although he's slowed late in the past two seasons, has helped the Panthers establish a respectable offensive line. Oher, who many had written off as broken and ineffective when in Tennessee, was a significant upgrade to the failed Byron Bell experiment. After an offseason foot surgery in 2014, Oher proved an effective pass-protector with the Panthers.
The thought of losing one of these guys gave Dave Gettleman the willies obviously. Signing Smith to the Panthers roster may not look like a big deal to many since he won't start. It's a critical signing, however. If Oher were to go down this season, Carolina simply doesn't have a guy who can play the left tackle position. Remmers doesn't look to have the foot speed and second-year Daryl Williams isn't progressing fast enough to start at either left or right tackle. Adding a guy like Smith is essential if Carolina wants to endure what is always a grueling regular season. It is the teams, much like the Panthers did last year, who can overcome injuries to a starter with somewhat serviceable replacements that do well in the end. I wouldn't be surprised if we see some more activity when it comes to the offensive line either. Don't be surprised to see Gettleman make similar additions at defensive end or safety in the next week or two either.
By the Professor, aka Tony Dunn
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