Carolina Panthers training camp 2013: All's not right on the offensive line

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The weekend in Spartanburg didn't do much to assuage fears about Cam Newton's protection.

"That was a nice catch by LaFell, of course Greg Hardy had Cam dead to rights"

Jaxon's observation over my shoulder on Sunday was dead-on, and it wasn't the first time. When the team broke into pads for their first 11-on-11 drills it was immediately clear how far behind the offensive line was from a talent perspective. It was assumed that the interior offensive line could have problems, but we the offensive tackles were more of a let down.

In some ways it's to be expected. You have Hardy entering his prime against Jordan Gross, who has always relied more on technique than brute strength. Gross made the right adjustment from the snap, and blocked Hardy effectively, but the rip move he's using is extremely powerful -- and he shed Gross easily. Hardy would have had at least four sacks if yesterday's practice was a live game.

The right side of the line was almost worse. Again, it's unfair to wholly blame Byron Bell because he's working against Charles Johnson -- but CJ got near-consistent pressure as he used his base to get under Bell's pads and push him back.

Amini Silatolu was far and away the best offensive lineman, not that it would be extremely difficult given the alternatives. That says a lot about the team's prospects on the line.

It's worth the discussion whether Amini should move to right guard at this point. I don't think it's his best position overall, and this he can thrive in the pulling guard role -- but the alternatives are pretty dire at this point. Newton will get no adequate protection from his frontside linemen, and it's here where he struggles the most.

The obvious answer is to sign Travelle Wharton, especially given the money that was freed up by restructuring Jon Beason's deal. This has transitioned past a need, and the situation is dire. Justifying the offensive line issues as "rust" is understandable for this last weekend, but if it lasts much longer the team needs to make a move.

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