Panthers fans held their breath as a key figure in their 2019 season was knocked out of last night's exhibition game. Second-round tackle Greg Little suffered a concussion; fortunately he has two weeks to get cleared for Week 1. Question is which quarterback Carolina's offensive line will be protecting, with Cam Newton suffering a foot/ankle injury in the same game.
The initial report on Newton is a sprain, which was met with relief by the Twitter world, but I'm holding off being too relieved. A sprain is still ligament damage, and his availability for Week 1 can't be taken for granted. The loss of Newton for any length of time would be devastating to the offense, as anyone who's watched the backups labor in the preseason is well aware. Hopefully we get a clear timetable by today, although Ron Rivera will downplay it no matter what.
As for Little, he actually isn't even slated to start -- Daryl Williams and the previous year's second-rounder, Taylor Moton, will be the starting tackles. Williams, previously the right tackle, missed most of last season with knee injuries. Ideally he'll hold up on the left and Little will get to sit this season, perhaps moving into one of the tackle spots if there's an injury.
The Panthers made some good moves on the line this offseason. Ryan Kalil retired (although that didn't take; he's a Jet now), but they patched that hole with Denver's Matt Paradis, which might be an upgrade. Little gives the team a nice fallback option at tackle if one of the starters gets hurt or underperforms. Trai Turner will be excellent at one guard spot. It's the other spot, Greg Van Roten, that brings down the line's overall ranking. Some chance, though, that it will be an above-average group (though they're slotted lower).
- The other news item from the week involves Trent Williams, who I should probably simply remove from Washington's rankings (but they're ranked so low it wouldn't drop them much further anyway). He isn't planning on reporting to the team, and it apparently isn't going to trade him.
A story yesterday said the Patriots offered a first-round pick, and Washington turned it down. The Patriots said it didn't happen. Somebody is lying; possibly both are. Washington might certainly have put the story out there in hopes of coaxing a first-round pick out of somebody. New England might deny the story even if true, not wanting to hurt the sensitive feelings of its projected starter at left tackle, Isaiah Wynn. It really doesn't matter. For now, it looks like Williams' holdout might extend into the season. Maybe Washington deals him when it figures out it's not going anywhere this season and may as well get something for its disgruntled star. We'll see.
Updated rankings below; colorful table at our Facebook page at this link.