Daryl Williams was quietly one of the best right tackles in football last season. Unfortunately, the Carolina Panthers might not have him at all in 2018.
Some fans roll their eyes when NFL head coaches say their first preseason priority is entering the regular season with a healthy roster. Unfortunately for Panthers fans, the team got a legitimate scare on Saturday. Right tackle Daryl Williams went down with a scary knee injury, but it doesn’t appear that it will keep him out for the season.
Early indications are that he suffered a torn MCL and dislocated his right patella. The team has not put a timetable on his return, but he should be back at some point during the 2018 season.
The Pro Bowl tackle was rolled up on by defensive end Zach Moore and tackle Vernon Butler during a passing drill on Saturday. The fifth-year pro immediately went down clutching his right knee. Ultimately, Williams was carted off the practice field under the watch of head coach Ron Rivera.
Williams’ teammates were obvious concerned when he went down. Quarterback Cam Newton told reporters he hopes everyone is “overreacting” about the injury, but his worry was obvious. The talented tackle was a big part of Carolina’s offensive success last season.
The silver lining to the situation is that the Panthers do have a young, talented tackle to plug into Williams spot on the line. Taylor Moton was drafted in the second round with high expectations in 2017, but he’s yet to really make an impact. The coaching staff likes him as a versatile backup at multiple positions, but his best position is tackle. No one is claiming he is ready to play at a Pro Bowl level, but it is a position where the Panthers have some appreciable depth.
The injury really couldn’t come at a worse time in Williams’ career either. He and the Panthers have been negotiating on a long-term contract that would keep him in Carolina for years to come. There was no sense an agreement was imminent, but Williams was definitely in line for a massive raise. This injury will likely put his payday on hold.
Things could have been worse for the Panthers, but Williams’ injury is still going to hurt the team early in the season. Rivera and company just hope he’ll be back to top form by the time the playoffs roll around.