CHARLOTTE – The Panthers' offensive line wants to take opponents to dinner.
The meal won't be fancy or expensive, but it will involve plenty of protein.
Carolina's offensive staff has adopted interim coach Steve Wilks' mentality around dominating the line of scrimmage. Perhaps it hadn't been as apparent as when eight offensive linemen came out for a play in the Seattle win.
The Panthers called offensive linemen Cameron Erving, Cade Mays, and Michael Jordan to join the starting five in a triple-jumbo package – building onto a precedent they've set throughout the season by adding Erving and Mays into other personnel groupings.
"We call it Arby's – we have the meats," starting left guard Brady Christensen said with a laugh on Monday. "That's a lot of meat out there. That's what we kept saying all week."
The play resulted in a 2-yard D'Onta Foreman gain. It wasn't dramatic for its result, but it was part of a 12-play, 74-yard touchdown drive that bridged the first and second quarters. Carolina's third score of the game extended its early 17-0 lead over the Seahawks, imposing their will upfront behind a dominant rushing attack.
Carolina's offense put together lengthy, methodical drives against Seattle, finishing the day with 223 yards rushing on 46 attempts, with the longest run topping out on a 26-yard Sam Darnold scramble. For the Seahawks' defense, it likely became "demoralizing," the term Wilks frequently uses for the Panthers' run game.
"Across the board, we have really adopted and accepted the mindset and culture we want upfront, which is really that blue-collar mentality, smash-mouth football running the ball," Wilks said Monday.
Christensen said he could feel Seattle wearing down, especially in the fourth quarter, as the Panthers finished what they'd started early with a 10-play, 74-yard touchdown drive. In that series, 68 of those yards were gained in eight runs.
"We pride ourselves on being in great shape," Christensen said. "We had an incredibly hard fall camp. We practice hard. So we want to have those 12, 15, 18-play drives around the ball because we know we can outlast the defense. That's really cool to see those guys get tired over there, and we can just keep pounding the ball. It's what you dream of as an offensive lineman."
Christensen said establishing the run as a group has been "incredible." And in games like Sunday, when the Panthers put up over 200 yards rushing for the second time this season, using that word seems appropriate for everyone, from the running backs to the offensive linemen.
"It's been fun to be able to be physical, really come together as a unit, and have those games where you can run the ball like we did yesterday, control the clock and the line of scrimmage," Christensen said. "Because that's what we want to do. That's what coach always harps on – to control the line of scrimmage. And that's what we're going to keep trying to do as we go forward."
The Panthers benefit from consistency along its starting front, which they couldn't say in a year with high turnover along the line last year. Other than a swap at center from Pat Elflein to Bradley Bozeman, the guards and tackles have stayed intact.
It all has been a recipe for success.
"It seems like every week we figure out a way to get another O-lineman on the field," Ekwonu said. "(It's) definitely great; shoutout to those guys in the Arby's package. Definitely fun being able to be full of O-linemen on the field at once."
Christensen recalled when the Panthers first installed the personnel grouping recently, offensive line coach James Campen presented a slide of roast beef sandwiches with the weight of each player. Seeing the total weight on the field for the package, Christensen quipped – "It was a lot of meat."
So when they finally got to debut in Seattle, there was a lot to be excited about.
"We were looking forward to that play," Christensen said. "Any time you have eight big uglies out there, man, it's incredible. It was fun when you see all three of those guys running out. It was honestly a dream come true. Having eight guys out there, that was awesome."
Go inside the locker room and on the field for the post-game celebration after Sunday's win in Seattle.