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The Panthers' overlooked offensive tackle

Posted May 24, 2017

While most wonder what's going on with the Panthers' most famous offensive tackle, Daryl Williams works quietly.

CHARLOTTE - For nearly eight months now, people have been wondering about Michael Oher's status.

With the popular offensive tackle absent for the first two days of OTAs, and the Panthers still hoping he'll return sometime this spring, the questions probably won't stop anytime soon. 

Fans will keep asking media; media will keep asking head coach Ron Rivera and media, fans and friends will keep asking players if they think Oher will play again after missing 13 games last season with a concussion. 

"I think everybody on the team is (getting asked about Oher)," said tackle Daryl Williams shortly after the Panthers, sans Oher, wrapped up Wednesday's practice. "But what can we do?" 

The Panthers' answer, at least right now, is to plug Williams in as the starting right tackle. Which is also what happened after Oher suddenly entered the NFL's concussion protocol in late September. 

Williams ended up making 10 starts in 2016, a run interrupted by an ankle sprain that cost him three games in December. But for the most part, the 2015 fourth-round pick was solid if not unspectacular in his second season. 

If you're one that puts stock into Pro Football Focus grades, the site ranked Williams 45th among all tackles last year. That was three spots behind Arizona's D.J. Humphries, who the Panthers eyed in the first round of the same draft they took Williams, and six spots ahead of Mike Remmers, who had to spend most of his final season with the Panthers filling in for Oher on the left side.

That's where Williams has spent part of the spring.

Even though the Panthers used a second-round pick on Taylor Moton last month, he, like Williams, is a natural right tackle. So if Oher doesn't return, Williams has a leg up on the No. 2 left tackle spot, even if he's not all that comfortable in the role. 

"This is the NFL, I have to embrace it. I can't not play left tackle," Williams said. "Anything can happen, obviously. I'm just glad I'm getting more practice at it."

It won't be anything more than practice as long as Matt Kalil is healthy and plays up to the considerable investment the Panthers made in him during free agency. And while it's still early, Ryan's younger brother seems to be fitting in nicely with his new teammates. 

"Matt's a good dude. Very athletic, too, just like his brother. I always kind of get them confused seeing them around the locker room, but I know when I see a 6-7 dude, it's Matt," Williams said with a laugh.  

Williams, who turns 25 in September, is still far from a finished product. He's a better mauler in the run game than pass blocker. But coaches saw enough last year to believe they'll be OK on the right side with or without Oher. And so did Williams. 

"I got some playing time under my belt, so obviously that helps me out," he said. 

"I thought I played good, so I think I proved to not only myself but to everyone that I can play and start in this league."

For nearly eight months now, people have been wondering about Michael Oher's status. 
With the popular offensive tackle absent for the first two days of OTAs, and the Panthers still hoping he'll return sometime this spring, the questions probably won't stop anytime soon. 
Fans will keep asking media; media will keep asking coach Ron Rivera and media, fans and friends will keep asking players if they think Oher will play again after missing 13 games last season with a concussion. 
"I think everybody on the team is (getting asked about Oher)," said tackle Daryl Williams shortly after the Panthers, sans Oher, wrapped up Wednesday's practice. "But what can we do?" 
The Panthers' answer, at least right now, is to plug Williams in as the starting right tackle. Which is also what happened after Oher suddenly entered the NFL's concussion protocol in late September. 
Williams ended up making 10 starts in 2016, a run interrupted by an ankle sprain that cost him three games in December. But for the most part, the 2015 fourth-round pick was solid if not unspectacular in his second season. 
If you're one that puts stock into Pro Football Focus grades, the site ranked Williams 45th among all tackles last year. That was three spots behind Arizona's D.J. Humphries, who the Panthers eyed in the first round of the same draft they took Williams, and six spots ahead of Mike Remmers, who had to spend most of his final season with the Panthers filling in for Oher on the left side. 
Even though the Panthers spent a second-round pick on Taylor Moton last month, he, like Williams, is a natural right tackle. So if Oher doesn't return, Williams has a leg up on the No. 2 left tackle spot, even if he's not all that comfortable in the role. 
"This is the NFL, I have to embrace it. I can't not play left tackle," Williams said. "Anything can happen, obviously. I'm just glad I'm getting more practice at it."
It won't be anything more than practice as long as Matt Kalil is healthy and plays up to the considerable investment the Panthers made in him during free agency. And while it's still early, Ryan's younger brother seems to be fitting in nicely with his new teammates. 
"Matt's a good dude. Very athletic, too, just like his brother. I always kind of get them confused seeing them around the locker room, but I know when I see a 6-7 dude, it's Matt," Williams said with a laugh.  
Williams, who turns 25 in September, is still far from a finished product. He's a better mauler in the run game than pass blocker. But coaches saw enough last year to believe they'll be OK on the right side with or without Oher. And so did Williams. 
"I got some playing time under my belt, so obviously that helps me out," he said. 
"I thought I played good, so I think I proved to not only myself but to everyone that I can play and start in this league."For nearly eight months now, people have been wondering about Michael Oher's status. 
With the popular offensive tackle absent for the first two days of OTAs, and the Panthers still hoping he'll return sometime this spring, the questions probably won't stop anytime soon. 
Fans will keep asking media; media will keep asking coach Ron Rivera and media, fans and friends will keep asking players if they think Oher will play again after missing 13 games last season with a concussion. 
"I think everybody on the team is (getting asked about Oher)," said tackle Daryl Williams shortly after the Panthers, sans Oher, wrapped up Wednesday's practice. "But what can we do?" 
The Panthers' answer, at least right now, is to plug Williams in as the starting right tackle. Which is also what happened after Oher suddenly entered the NFL's concussion protocol in late September. 
Williams ended up making 10 starts in 2016, a run interrupted by an ankle sprain that cost him three games in December. But for the most part, the 2015 fourth-round pick was solid if not unspectacular in his second season. 
If you're one that puts stock into Pro Football Focus grades, the site ranked Williams 45th among all tackles last year. That was three spots behind Arizona's D.J. Humphries, who the Panthers eyed in the first round of the same draft they took Williams, and six spots ahead of Mike Remmers, who had to spend most of his final season with the Panthers filling in for Oher on the left side. 
Even though the Panthers spent a second-round pick on Taylor Moton last month, he, like Williams, is a natural right tackle. So if Oher doesn't return, Williams has a leg up on the No. 2 left tackle spot, even if he's not all that comfortable in the role. 
"This is the NFL, I have to embrace it. I can't not play left tackle," Williams said. "Anything can happen, obviously. I'm just glad I'm getting more practice at it."
It won't be anything more than practice as long as Matt Kalil is healthy and plays up to the considerable investment the Panthers made in him during free agency. And while it's still early, Ryan's younger brother seems to be fitting in nicely with his new teammates. 
"Matt's a good dude. Very athletic, too, just like his brother. I always kind of get them confused seeing them around the locker room, but I know when I see a 6-7 dude, it's Matt," Williams said with a laugh.  
Williams, who turns 25 in September, is still far from a finished product. He's a better mauler in the run game than pass blocker. But coaches saw enough last year to believe they'll be OK on the right side with or without Oher. And so did Williams. 
"I got some playing time under my belt, so obviously that helps me out," he said. 
"I thought I played good, so I think I proved to not only myself but to everyone that I can play and start in this league."