Start­ing tackle Wil­liams suf­fers ap­par­ent knee in­jury in padded prac­tice

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Football - BY JOURDAN RODRIGUE jro­[email protected]­lot­teob­ Jourdan Rodrigue: 704-358-5071; @jour­dan­ro­drigue

Carolina Panthers start­ing right tackle Daryl Wil­liams suf­fered an ap­par­ent right knee in­jury half­way through Satur­day’s prac­tice at Wof­ford Col­lege.

Wil­liams re­quired as­sis­tance to stand, and he had to be carted off the field. He was taken to Char­lotte to be eval­u­ated.

Satur­day was the team’s first day in pads. The in­jury ap­peared to be non­con­tact.

Wil­liams backpedaled dur­ing team drills to con- tain his man, and his right leg ap­peared to crum­ple be­neath him. He yelled in pain, and play­ers knelt as train­ers rushed to at­tend to him. Many vet­er­ans stayed with Wil­liams as he was helped onto the cart by de­fen­sive tackle Kawann Short and the team’s med­i­cal staff.

“It got real quiet and it just sort of hits you in the stom­ach,” said de­fen­sive end Wes Hor­ton.

“It was tough. It re­ally was,” said coach Ron Rivera. “We were kind of float­ing a lit­tle bit right there, espe­cially on the of­fen­sive side. You could see it, you could sense it. It’s one of those things. It takes the wind out of your sails a lit­tle bit.”

Wil­liams started ev­ery game at right tackle for the Panthers last sea­son, earn­ing sec­ond-team All-Pro hon­ors.

“You never want to see a player like that go down. … (He) has done such an ex­cep­tional job of bat­tling to get the credit that he has de­served, the no­to­ri­ety this past year and com­ing into his own this year,” said quar­ter­back Cam New­ton, who added that he felt op­ti­mistic about Wil­liams’ prog­no­sis. “You hate to see cer­tain things like that. But I be­lieve that ev­ery­thing will be all right, hop­ing ev­ery- thing will be all right.”

Wil­liams, 25, was a fourth-round pick by the Panthers in 2015 and is en­ter­ing a con­tract year.

Ne­go­ti­a­tions be­gan this spring be­tween the team and Wil­liams’ camp, but a source told the Ob­server that there was a “mon­ster gap” be­tween the club and the player fi­nan­cially.

As prac­tice con­tin­ued, sec­ond-year guard/tackle Tay­lor Mo­ton took over the start­ing right tackle po­si­tion.

“I’m not quite sure what hap­pened” to Wil­liams, he said after prac­tice. “As soon as I saw it hap­pen, I im­me­di­ately got on a knee and prayed for him. My heart goes out to him. I pray for a speedy re­cov­ery. ...

“He’s been a great men­tor to me. Sit­ting back and watch­ing how he plays day in and day out … I know he means a lot to the team.”

Mo­ton, a 2017 sec­on­dround pick out of Western Michigan, has been com­pet­ing for the va­cancy at left guard. But last year, Rivera men­tioned Mo­ton had largely been get­ting tackle snaps dur­ing prac­tices, and he played lim­ited snaps in games. He was only used as the ex­tra tackle in Carolina’s short­yardage “Jumbo” pack­age.

But Mo­ton feels con­fi­dent he can step in if needed.

“It doesn’t mat­ter where they put me. If it’s right tackle right now, so be it,” he said. “I feel com­fort­able. I feel very con­fi­dent … My mind­set is, wher­ever they put me is my best po­si­tion. If that’s right tackle, then that’s my best po­si­tion.”

JEFF SINER [email protected]­lot­teob­

Carolina Panthers tackle Daryl Wil­liams is tended to by team per­son­nel after in­jur­ing his right leg dur­ing Satur­day’s train­ing camp prac­tice. Wil­liams was carted from the field.

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