When Ron Rivera saw tape of Amini Silatolu at Division 2 Midwestern State, he immediately saw a game-changer. Much of the season’s hype will be around linebacker Luke Kuechly and whether he can help the Carolina Panthers’ defense rebound from a poor 2011 showing, but Silatolu could be even more important to what the Panthers want to achieve on offense this year.
“The idea is to get him in there and have him become a part of what we want to do from the very, very beginning,” Coach Ron Rivera said. “He has gotten better each week. It was slow initially as he learns the position, but his athleticism really shows when he gets a chance to pull and get around the corner. You can really see the impact he can make for our team.”
Silatolu played tackle in college, but is currently training to be a guard with the Panthers. He will have to battle for the position which is flanked by two Pro Bowlers, and is position where he will be able to push around those not ready for his athleticism.
“Amini has a lot of potential,” C Ryan Kalil said. “He can be a really good player, and he’s coming along. It’s tough for the young guys to come in here – there’s a lot thrown at them – but we’re excited for him. He’s working hard, and time will tell.”
If Silatolu can become the young bridge of a talented young offensive line, then Cam Newton will have plenty of time to throw and room to run. The idea of last year’s NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year with space to play is a frightening thought, and one that can best come to fruition if Silatolu is playing his A-game.