Hall of Famer vouches for Panthers tackle Nate Chandler

AP

The Panthers might be trusting the blind side of their quarterback to a guy who was chasing quarterbacks two years ago.

And at least one Hall of Fame offensive lineman is ready to vouch for the experiment.

Panthers tackle Nate Chandler has spent the last two summers working with Jackie Slater on his conversion from defense, and Slater thinks his student has a bright future.

There’s no doubt in my mind he’s a top left tackle,” former Rams great Jackie Slater, said, via David Newton of ESPN.com.

Chandler actually started eight games last year (six at right guard, two at right tackle), but they’re letting him compete with Byron Bell for the job of replacing retired Jordan Gross.

“The thing that many underestimate is the tenacity of this individual,” Slater said. “He superseded things that were meat and potatoes and went straight to some of the cutting-edge things it takes to be a dominant football player. . . .

“If you’re going to replace a guy like Jordan Gross, you’ve got to replace him with a guy who at the very least is on par with him athletically. He’s got to have that comfortable athleticism to deal with the animals that are playing [opposite him].”

The Panthers signed him to a three-year extension this offseason, basically buying his restricted free agent year and then some for an $800,000 signing bonus. If he turns out as good as Slater thinks, it will be a tremendous bargain.