SPARTANBURG, S.C. – On the first day of full contact in pads, right tackle Daryl Williams was carted off the field in obvious pain after suffering a non-contact injury.
Williams appeared to injure his right knee. Head coach Ron Rivera wasn't able to confirm that or anything else about the injury after Saturday morning's practice.
"He's being evaluated," Rivera said. "They'll send him up to Charlotte where he can be closely looked at, and we'll go from there. I'm not sure. I just know they're going to take him up and evaluate him later today.
"Daryl is a solid young man, and he's a big part of what we do. We'll keep our fingers crossed."
As Cam Newton dropped back during an offense-versus-defense period midway through practice, Williams set up to block defensive end Zach Moore. As Williams did, his right knee appeared to buckle and he fell back, emitting screams that were unnerving to hear.
Teammates not in his direct proximity took a knee as the training staff surrounded Williams. His fellow starting offensive linemen stood around him while the work continued and until he was carted off about five minutes after going down.
"That's tough," safety Mike Adams said. "That period right there after he went down was just complete silence. I don't think that was a good period even for us as a defense, or as an offense, because we were still thinking about what just happened.
"It's definitely unfortunate. Usually the teams that go the furthest stay healthy, or they have somebody else step up. It's the next-man-up mentality because it's a part of the game. It's unfortunate, but the next guy has to step up."
Rivera said Taylor Moton, a second-round draft choice in 2017, would be the first player given the chance to step up. Free agent acquisition Jeremiah Sirles has also seen significant work at right tackle so far in camp.
"Taylor is going to have to step up and take advantage of this opportunity to get better," Rivera said. "He was brought here to be a backup and eventually work into an opportunity to be a starter, and he's going to have a chance now to show us what he's capable of. He'll take advantage of it, I believe."
Williams, a fourth-round selection out of Oklahoma in 2015, solidified the right tackle spot and then some in 2017, earning second-team All-Pro honors heading into what is now a contract year for him.
"When you get a guy and you develop him and you watch you him grow, it's always hard to see something like that happen," Rivera said. "They have a goal in mind, and when something like this does happen, it's upsetting. But hopefully we have some guys who will step up and take advantage of the opportunity."