Ryan Kalil expects to play this year, after yearlong neck issue

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Panthers center Ryan Kalil was active last week, which was progress. But he didn’t play, which was typical of this season.

But the Pro Bowler said he hopes to be back on the field soon, and continue next year after a neck injury that has limited him to five quarters of football this season.

“Yeah, I do,” Kalil said, via Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. “I don’t think they’d let me take up a roster spot if they didn’t think I would be able to.”

Kalil would only refer to it as a “pretty serious injury,” but said he was improving. He was there in case of emergency last week, but Tyler Larsen played the whole game against the Jets. Kalil has been listed as limited in practice this week.

After an issue cropped up prior to Week Two, he didn’t see the field again until Week Seven. He didn’t make it out of the first quarter of that game, and they’ve tried to give him time to make sure his next attempt lasts a bit longer.

He also said he plans to play beyond this year. He’s under contract through 2018.

“I’m working on getting healthy and getting stronger and that’s all I think about it,” he said. “I don’t think about anything other than the now.”

The Panthers could certainly use him, as their offense has been in flux all season, and the instability in the middle has been a factor. Larsen has played well in relief, but there’s still a drop-off from a healthy Kalil.