Rookie Taylor Moton is promising, but Michael Oher key for tackle depth

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- In some form or fashion, offensive tackle Michael Oher was a part of many of your questions on the Carolina Panthers this Memorial Day weekend.

This one hit on many aspects.

The question centered on depth at tackle if Oher, who has been in the concussion protocol since September and hasn't participated in organized team activities thus far, doesn't play this season.

Let's backtrack. A league source told me last week that Oher plans to be at the June 13-15 minicamp and play for the Panthers this season if he passes the concussion protocol.

In late March general manager Dave Gettleman showed optimism, reminding Oher was working out five days a week and was doing football-type work.

That Oher isn't at OTAs sends a red flag that can't be ignored. He's also dealing with a charge of assaulting an Uber driver in Nashville, with a June 6 court date.

Let's say Oher shows for the minicamp and ultimately is cleared. He would be the front-runner for the right tackle spot over Daryl Williams and second-round pick Taylor Moton.

He also would be the front-runner to move to left tackle if free-agent acquisition Matt Kalil were injured.

But the question centered on Oher not playing and Kalil getting hurt. Should that happen and Moton earns the right tackle spot over Williams, the Panthers would be in a worse pickle than they were a year ago when right tackle Mike Remmers replaced Oher on the left side.

While the Panthers are high on Moton and are working him out at both tackle spots, moving him to left tackle as a rookie if something happens to Kalil would be less than ideal. It's simply hard to imagine he'll be ready to take on the league's elite pass rushers by then.

Williams was adequate at right tackle last season, but a lineup of Moton and Williams might be scary for quarterback Cam Newton. Remember, he's still trying to recover mentally and physically from the beating he took a year ago.

The other tackles on the roster are Dan France and Tyrus Thompson. None are candidates to adequately replace Kalil.

So is the answer on the roster under Will's scenario? Yes and no. If Oher can't play this year, the Panthers will be active looking for another tackle to add depth when cuts are made in August.

But there are options on the roster. Pro Bowl right guard Trai Turner can play right tackle in a pinch, as can backup guard Chris Scott. The Panthers love position flexibility, particularly when it comes to linemen.

Turner filled in at right tackle last season when Williams was out.

But if Kalil is out for a sustained period and Oher isn't playing you're basically taking away two starters, and that would be catastrophic for any team.

If you need encouragement, Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil, Matt's brother, said on Thursday he "really" likes the depth this season.

"I've always felt great about our group each and every season," he said. "You really can judge a team by the bottom half of the roster. The year we went to the Super Bowl I felt our depth was incredible. I didn't think our depth was as good last season, and unfortunately injuries happen."