Typically during a critical bye week, an offensive lineman would more than likely steer clear of the spotlight. However, with the Carolina Panthers losing their Pro-Bowl center Ryan Kalil for the remainder of the season with a torn ligament in his foot, current right guard Geoff Hangartner unexpectedly becomes an essential piece to the Panthers’ offensive puzzle.
Panthers head coach Ron Rivera indicated on Wednesday afternoon that Hangartner would take over as center with Kalil sidelined.
Hangartner is no greenhorn when it comes to playing the position. He has plenty of experience. In fact, Hangartner started in over 30 games at center during his college days at Texas A&M University before eventually transitioning over to the right guard spot, a position he became somewhat familiar with during his first few years in the league with Carolina.
Although, he wouldn’t start at or even play center again until he joined the Buffalo Bills in 2009. Hangartner would serve as the Bills starting center for a full two seasons before finally being released by the Bills prior to the kick-off of 2011.
Hangartner rejoined the Panthers and return back to playing right guard alongside Kalil all of last season.
Hangartner’s transition back to center will of course be challenging, but the good news is that Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is familiar with him. Hangartner protected Newton all throughout Newton’s rookie season playing on Carolina’s offensive line.
Rivera stated to the media on Wednesday in regards to the loss of Kalil, “The truth of the matter is it’s time for us as a team to step up. This is another one of those things that’s going to try us.”
Hangartner will be tested, but like his head coach said, its time to step up.
Robert Kester, Carolina Panthers Columnist. Contact @robertkester1.