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Position preview: Offensive line

Posted Jul 10, 2013

Injuries forced the Panthers to start eight different starting offensive line combinations in 2012, but the unit rallied to help set a physical tone during the team's strong finish to the season.

All-Pro center Ryan Kalil, who suffered a season-ending foot injury after five games, is set to return, providing a big boost for an offensive line looking to help re-establish a consistent running game and provide protection for quarterback Cam Newton.

RETURNERS

Jordan Gross
A staple of the Panthers' offensive line, Gross is preparing for his 11th season as the team's starting left tackle. ... Started all 16 games last year and became the franchise's all-time leader in starts. ... The two-time Pro Bowler has only missed nine games in his career.

Ryan Kalil
Missed 11 games last year due to season-ending foot injury but is poised to return as the team's starting center in 2013. ... Selected to three consecutive Pro Bowls from 2009-11 and was an All-Pro in 2011.

Geoff Hangartner
Filled in at center in place of Kalil last year and also recorded four starts at right guard. ... Enters 2013 season as starter at right guard. ... A fifth-round draft choice by Carolina in 2005, Hangartner has played six of his eight NFL seasons with the Panthers (2009 and 2010 with Buffalo).

Byron Bell
An undrafted rookie from New Mexico in 2011, Bell has been the Panthers' starter at right tackle for the better part of two seasons, a position he's set to man once again in 2013. ... Has missed just one game in his two seasons.

Amini Silatolu
The Panthers' second-round draft choice in 2012 out of Division II Midwestern State started 15 games at left guard. ... Earned all-rookie honors from Pro Football Weekly/PFWA. ... Showed signs of progress as rookie season wore on and appears poised to raise his level of play in year two.

Jeff Byers
After two seasons spent almost entirely on the practice squad (2010 in Denver, 2011 in Carolina), made NFL debut in 2012, playing in 14 games with seven starts. ... Started four games at right guard when Hangartner shifted to center in place of Kalil and started the final three contests at center with Hangartner injured.

Garry Williams
Played in all 16 games with nine starts at right guard and two at right tackle. ... Can provide depth at multiple spots along the line.

Thomas Austin
Played in four games with one start in 2012 after beign signed as a free agent off the practice squad in December. ... Made first NFL start at left guard in place of an injured Silatolu in the season finale.

Bruce Campbell
Gross' backup at left tackle played in five games in 2012, often as an extra lineman in short-yardage situations. ... Acquired in a trade with Oakland in exchange for running back Mike Goodson prior to the start of the 2012 season.

Hayworth Hicks
Signed as a free agent from Tampa Bay's practice squad in December. ... Originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent from Iowa State by Indianapolis in 2012.

Justin Wells
Attended training camp with Carolina in 2012 but was waived in the final roster cutdown. ... Signed as a free agent in January.

RETURNING NEWCOMER

Nate Chandler
Making the switch to offensive tackle in 2013 after playing 10 games at defensive tackle as a rookie in 2012. ... Lined up at tight end, offensive line and defensive line while at UCLA.

ROOKIES

Edmund Kugbila
Fourth-round draft choice out of Valdosta State will compete for role as primary backup at guard. ... Ghana native delivered 36 touchdown-resulting blocks and surrendered no sacks in final two college seasons after shifting to right guard as a junior.

Tori Mobley
Signed as an undrafted rookie free agent in May. ... Three-year starter at Jacksonville State who played in 41 games with 33 starts.

RECENTLY ROSTERED

Brian Folkerts
Free agent center signed by Carolina in May. ... The three-year starter from Washburn spent time on Tampa Bay's practice squad and was originally signed as a rookie free agent by New Orleans.

Patrick Brown
Free agent tackle signed by Carolina in May. ... Played in 16 games with the Vikings in 2011. ...  Spent time with the Dolphins, Vikings and Jets in 2010. ... Originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by Carolina in 2009.


Panthers.com is taking a position-by-position look at the 90-man roster leading up training camp, having previously profiled quarterbacks and running backs