The Carolina Panthers were only up by four points at halftime against the Atlanta Falcons. It was an uneasy position to be in, especially since the Panthers felt they should be dominating the Falcons. One reason the shaky contest turned into a blowout was due to unsung hero Nate Chandler.
The reserve offensive tackle played a significant amount of the game at right guard after starter Chris Scott and backup Jeff Byers went down with injuries in the first half. Chandler, who has seen little to no action at the position, filled in and could not have played any better than he did.
“He played hard, and we didn’t really miss a beat with him in there,” center Ryan Kalil said, according to Panthers.com. “That gives him a lot of confidence, and that gives us a lot of confidence in him moving forward.
“It’s a testament to Nate. He does a great job throughout the week. He cares a lot about this group and his job. He does a good job of studying all positions. It’s also a testament to (offensive line) Coach (John) Matsko. Talk about a guy who works his butt off and has us prepared week in and week out.”
The defensive lineman turned offensive tackle/guard took a few snaps to get into a groove. However, once Chandler pulled himself together it was as if he was destined the play the position. The Panthers were able to run the ball on the right side with success and protect quarterback Cam Newton. All in all, it was a great performance from the offensive line.
Chandler’s top-notch performance is a credit to the coaching staff and the rest of the players along the line. No one got on the second-year player when he lined up and asked which defender was his. They worked through the hiccups and it turned out for the best.