Every time the Panthers suffer an injury on the offensive line, Taylor Moton gets assigned to a new position. That’s not good for the second-year pro.
The Carolina Panthers have suffered an incredible rash of injuries to offensive lineman during the preseason. Daryl Williams, Amini Silatolu and Matt Kalil have all gone down to injuries. That’s forced Taylor Moton to take a considerable amount of snaps at three different positions.
That would be a difficult assignment for a 10-year veteran. Moton doesn’t have anywhere near that kind of experience. The former Western Michigan star played in 16 games last season as a rookie but still hasn’t made his first NFL start. Expecting him to understand the intricacies of playing left guard, right tackle and left tackle is too much for Ron Rivera and company to ask of the talented lineman.
In fairness to the coaching staff, this certainly wasn’t their plan coming into the season. Originally the plan was to let Moton compete against Silatolu for the starting spot at left guard. In many ways, the organization was hoping Moton would win out. Silatolu can be an adequate player, but he doesn’t have much upside. If things break right for Moton, he does have the potential to develop into a Pro Bowl player.
Then Silatolu went down with a torn ACL and Moton inherited the position by default. That wasn’t ideal for the Panthers, but it wasn’t a complete disaster either. New offensive coordinator Norv Turner still had a reasonable offensive line to work with.
Then Daryl Williams suffered a knee injury of his own. The Panthers still haven’t established a timeline for his return, but it’s pretty clear he will begin the season on PUP. Losing a Pro Bowl right tackle really threw the offensive line into disarray. Once again, Moton was on the move. Playing him at right tackle made a lot of sense since it’s the position his game is best suited for. It still represented a significant change of thinking for the second-year pro.
Asking Moton to play two different spots was doable, but far from ideal. Unfortunately, things didn’t end there. Matt Kalil’s recent knee procedure has caused the coaching staff to shuffle the line even more. The Panthers believe he’ll be ready to start the opener against the Cowboys, but someone still has to play left tackle for the rest of the preseason. Once again, Moton is the guy on the move.
Left tackle is arguably the most difficult spot on the line to play. If Moton can manage to play it adequately, it will be a huge boost for the Panthers. The simple truth is the team shouldn’t be putting him in such an impossible position.
Instead of running Moton back and forth at every position, the Panthers need to bring in a veteran to help stabilize the group. It’s possible the front office doesn’t think any free agent on the market is good enough to help the team. If that’s the case, Marty Hurney and his staff should work to make a trade. They don’t need to bring in a potential star; a solid veteran would do the trick. As final cutdown day gets closer, some solid options should come available at relatively low prices.
If the Panthers want to return to the playoffs this season, they’ll need to find some stability on the offensive line. Part of that equation means finding Moton a home and leaving him there.