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Panthers need Canadian David Foucault to deliver at left tackle

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- David Foucault emerged from the shower room on Wednesday carrying a big stack of light blue towels that he delivers daily to the veteran offensive linemen.

"That's my job," the Carolina Panthers' undrafted rookie out of the University of Montreal said in his distinct French accent while sporting his usual big smile.

He'll add other duties this week. With starting left tackle Byron Bell ruled out with injuries to his knee and elbow, coach Ron Rivera is turning to the player known by most here as "the Canadian" to protect quarterback Cam Newton's blind side in Thursday night's game against the New Orleans Saints.

It's not a situation anyone imagined in May when Foucault -- whose name is pronounced Da-VEED foo-KOH -- made the roster after being invited to a rookie tryout.

It's not even a situation anyone imagined in training camp when Foucault, 25, was asked to stand up and sing the Canadian national anthem.

"I say like two words and everybody says, 'USA! USA!'" said Foucault, from LaSalle, Quebec.

They also booed, part of a prank organized by center Ryan Kalil.

But they'll all be cheering for the 6-foot-8, 305-pound offensive tackle who wears his long, blond hair in a ponytail. He'll take the field with first place in the NFC South on the line.

"It's going very fast for me," Foucault said. "I'm very stressful a little bit. When I came here for my first day, they put me on the practice squad, and in two hours, they put me on the roster, and after two games, I was on the field."

Now he's starting.

It indeed has been a steep learning curve for a player who is mastering the English language.

"He understands English fine," Kalil said. "Now, his speaking is a little different. If he had to make calls for us, we might be in a little trouble."

Some might suggest the Panthers (3-4-1) are in trouble because they're starting a player who played 11 snaps in Carolina's first six games. Some might also suggest Newton is in trouble.

But the Panthers had no other option. Right tackle Nate Chandler has a groin injury, so moving him would have been risky. Left guard Amini Silatolu would have moved to tackle, but he's out again with a calf injury.

Garry Williams, who began the season as the backup at both tackles, is on injured reserve with a back injury.

"It's the situation we're in," Rivera said. "It's not like we said, 'Hey, you know what? When we get to Week 9, why don't we put the kid out there at left tackle?'"

Don't get Rivera wrong. He likes Foucault. One of the reasons the Panthers kept him on the 53-man roster instead of the practice squad was they feared another team would sign him.

They just never imagined they would need him -- at least as a starter -- in a game this big.

"The three games that he's had an opportunity to play in, you get excited, you get intrigued," Rivera said of Foucault, who played 30 snaps last Sunday against Seattle, 29 the previous week against Green Bay and 11 in Week 4 at Baltimore. "It'll be fun to see how he does."

Foucault is embracing the moment. He did an interview with a Canadian media outlet on Tuesday. His family is set to watch Thursday's game on TV.

What's unique about this game is players get to introduce themselves on the broadcast. Players typically say their name and school.

Foucault?

"I just say my name," he said.

And then he went back to delivering towels.