|Trai Turner moves up as offensive line leader, mentor with Panthers|
|Pro Bowl guard inherits senior status|
|Published Wednesday, June 12, 2019 12:19 pm|
|Carolina Panthers guard Trai Turner is the most-decorated offensive lineman on the squad with four Pro Bowl selections in his first five NFL seasons. He’s taken on more of a leadership position with the retirement of center Ryan Kalil.|
Just about everything’s changing on the Carolina Panthers’ offensive line.
Trai Turner isn’t.
Turner, Carolina’s right guard, is the only player projected to start in the same position he played in 2018. Who might fill the other four positions is a question to be decided in training camp.
“I think the best five are going to be out there,” Turner said, “ and whoever’s out there – whether it’s the five they want or it’s another five or the five you expect – “we’re all going to go out there with a job to do and we’re going to take care of business.”
Assuming more of a leadership role entering his sixth season as a Panther, Turner is the most decorated returning lineman with four Pro Bowl appearances.
He fills a role after the retirement of Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil.
“It’s kind of neat to watch Trai assume the mantle,” Carolina coach Ron Rivera said. “History tells us that it was Jordan Gross and then it was Ryan Kalil and now Trai. “And Trai stepped up and has been kind of that veteran leader which has been really nice to see, kind of neat to see him step to the forefront.”
Turner and his fellow offensive linemen may be fitting pieces into place between now and the season opener, but for now they mostly have a lot of getting comfortable to do.
“I’m always sharpening my skills, sharpening their skills, honing in on what we need to do out here right now and we’ll work on technique, get that continuity with one another and just get that gel,” Turner said. “They help me, I help them and I feel like as a line we’ve been improving daily.”
One of the roster additions playing to fit into one of those five spots is tackle Greg Little, Carolina’s second-round pick in May’s draft. Depending on his development, Little could wind up playing on either side.
“Great guy and athlete, still learning,” Turner said. “You know, he’s a young player and he’s only been here three weeks so he’s got a lot to go, but he’s been doing a great job. I think he’s taking it head on and listening to what everybody’s telling him I mean just learning through experience.”
Rookie or veteran, Turner is making the most of his role as a mentor, working with his teammates to get better and adjust.
“It’s one of those things where you have to take it a day at a time,” he said. “Looking forward kind of hurts you and that’s what I tell them,” he said. “I continue to tell myself that, you know, I worry about one thing, one play, one day at a time and everything else is going to take care of itself.”
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