The Panthers Have A Rookie Right Tackle - What's The Strategy?

PHILADELPHIA PA - JANUARY 09: Clay Matthews #52 of the Green Bay Packers sacks Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles during the 2011 NFC wild card playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 9 2011 in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

We had a link posted earlier about one big injury problem for the Carolina Panthers: they're going with an undrafted rookie at right tackle on Sunday. Starting RT Jeff Otah is out with a concussion. From Cat Scratch Reader:

Byron Bell's short career in Carolina had been nothing short of remarkable, and it continues to trend that way. Every year teams find players who just happen to 'click' with their systems, and it appears for the Panthers he's that player.

At 6-5 and 339 lbs., Bell has size that can't be coached. But he was projected to be a late round pick at best, and went undrafted for a reason. CBS Sports.com says he "plays tall" and "has low recovery speed." It means smaller guys can get under his pads and overcome his size advantage, and the Packers speed rushers can run past him.

Enter LB Clay Matthews. The Saints started a new right tackle against the Packers last week, Zach Strief, and at 6-7 and 320 lbs., he's similar to Bell. And he had problems stopping Matthews, which Ben Muth pointed out were alleviated by Dom Capers, who kept moving Matthews all over the field. Maybe they should just leave him over the rookie and see what havoc he can wreck.

In more bad news for the Panthers offensive line, they needed to step it up anyway. I asked Jaxon at Cat Scratch Reader about the offensive line overall:

Q: I had thought that the Panthers offensive line was one of their strengths, but they seemed to struggle against the Cardinals. What do you think of them right now?

A: The offensive line has been a disappointment so far I would agree. It’s partly to injury as RG Geoff Schwartz is on IR and now RT Jeff Otah will not start Sunday due to a concussion. The Packers will see UDFA rookie Byron Bell at RT though Otah has not been completely ruled out yet. Regardless, the other three starters have been solid in the past and need to pick it up.

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