O line or 'ow' line? Panthers' LG Silatolu out for season with ACL tear

jjones@charlotteobserver.comOctober 7, 2013 

Since the start of training camp, the Panthers have released their starting right guard, lost the draft pick who was to replace him to injured reserve, then lost the next starting right guard to IR after the first game.

Monday, Carolina’s offensive line was dealt more bad news. An MRI Monday revealed starting left guard Amini Silatolu tore his ACL and MCL and will miss the remainder of the season.

“I thought it would be a hyperextension and I’d be OK,” Silatolu said. “The MRI said different.

“I just got to move on. I just got to get back out there.”

Silatolu was injured when an Arizona defensive lineman swung his leg and hit the second-year guard during the third quarter, with Carolina backed up on its 10-yard line.

“That’s part of football and it’s unfortunate,” said offensive coordinator Mike Shula, whose line allowed seven Arizona sacks Sunday. “He did some really good things in the game yesterday. But another guy’s going to have an opportunity and then another guy is going to have an opportunity to fill a backup spot.”

The Panthers will likely make Travelle Wharton the starter at left guard, a position he held for his first eight seasons in the league. Wharton is still working on his conditioning after missing the entire 2011 season with a knee injury.

Carolina’s guard positions have been somewhat of a carousel this year. Geoff Hangartner entered training camp as the starter with 2012 fourth-round draft pick Edmund Kugbila as his understudy. Hangartner was cut at camp and Kugbila suffered a knee injury that eventually landed him on IR.

Garry Williams took over at right guard, but an ACL injury in the Week 1 contest against Seattle sidelined him for the season, allowing Chris Scott to take over at right guard.

The Panthers are likely to promote undrafted rookie guard/center Brian Folkerts from the practice squad, which would leave the team with two open spots on the eight-man practice squad.

Two Gregs: Tight end Greg Olsen was seen in a protective walking boot and defensive end Greg Hardy had ice on his right elbow Monday at the stadium.

The severity of Olsen’s injury is unclear, but he was walking with a noticeable limp in the visitor’s locker room following the game Sunday. Hardy said he hyperextended his elbow but expects to be at practice on Wednesday.

Lester improving: Undrafted rookie safety Robert Lester got his second interception Sunday in his second career NFL game.

Two weeks after getting a fourth-quarter interception against the Giants, Lester picked off Carson Palmer on the first drive of the game Sunday for a touchback.

That made defensive coordinator Sean McDermott say he has the hot hand in the secondary.

“He’s done a great job and it really comes back to his preparation,” McDermott said. “He takes it very seriously. From a coaching standpoint he’s a joy to coach, very coachable and great instincts. He’s done a real nice job and he, like all of us, has to continue to grow.”

Lester has gotten the start at strong safety after the Panthers moved Mike Mitchell to free safety following Charles Godfrey going on IR and Quintin Mikell suffering an ankle injury. Mikell said Monday he hopes to practice this week to test his ankle.

McDermott did not indicate what changes, if any, would be made once Mikell returns to action.

Jacobs waived: Two days after the Panthers signed linebacker Ben Jacobs to the 53-man roster, Carolina waived him.

Jacobs was promoted for depth at the position after the Panthers traded Jon Beason to the Giants. If he passes waivers, he’ll be able to sign back with Carolina’s practice squad on Tuesday.

Jones: 704-358-5323; Twitter: @jjones9

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