Panthers looking in-house to fill interior line jobs

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The Panthers were able to check off a number of boxes with their draft, but there’s still a good bit of work to do — especially up the middle of their offense.

But coach Ron Rivera suggested they like some of the reserves they have on hand, and will rely on “competition” to fill some key roles.

They lost All-Pro left guard Andrew Norwell in free agency, and center Ryan Kalil is entering his final season. But the Panthers spent none of their eight draft picks on an interior linemen.

“I think there’s going to be a tremendous amount of competition, I really do,” Rivera said, via Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer. “The one thing I don’t think anyone should feel is comfortable with their opportunities. . . .

“These guys have got to step up. We’ve got a young group of guys that show some flashes of ability, but now we want to see it in action and give everyone an opportunity.”

The Panthers have a number of internal options, including 2017 second-rounder Taylor Moton, a tackle who served as their sixth blocker in jumbo packages last year. Between him and journeymen including Greg Van Roten and Amini Silatolu and backup center Tyler Larsen, the Panthers are going to hope for the best. They also signed Vikings guard-tackle Jeremiah Sirles this offseason.

They’re filling in the roster blanks with undrafted rookies for now, but it’s possible they’ll sign a veteran later. They’re not going to sign any unrestricted free agents before the second week of May, because they want to preserve their compensatory picks for 2019. But it’s definitely a position they’re going to continue to work on, among others. They didn’t draft a running back to pair with Christian McCaffrey either, and that’s another spot where a free agent addition seems likely.