Panthers’ Austin Corbett To Miss Regular-Season Time; Brady Christensen On Track For Week 1

Big-picture changes have taken place in Carolina this offseason, but the team is planning to place Bryce Young behind the same offensive line that protected Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold in 2022. But that configuration will not be in place to start the year.

Austin Corbett suffered an ACL tear during the Panthers’ Week 18 game in New Orleans, and Frank Reich said the expectation is the 2022 free agency pickup will not be ready in time for the season opener. In better news for the Panthers, David Newton of notes Brady Christensen — the other guard who suffered a major injury (a broken ankle) in Week 18 — is on track to be ready for the 2023 opener.

The Panthers gave Corbett a three-year, $26.25MM deal last year; after making every start for the Rams from 2020-21, Corbett did the same for the Panthers last season. His inability to make it through Week 18 unscathed could lead to a stay on the reserve/PUP list come August. Such a placement would shelve Corbett for at least four games next season, though the team could also keep the former second-rounder on its active roster and go week-to-week regarding a return window.

The Panthers factored the likely Corbett early-season absence into their draft, with Newton adding fourth-rounder Chandler Zavala is the most likely first-string fill-in opposite Christensen. After four years at Division II Fairmont State, Zavala transferred to NC State in 2021. He earned first-team All-ACC acclaim at guard as a sixth-year senior.

Carolina’s Ikem Ekwonu first-round pick last year led to Christensen sliding to guard on a full-time basis, and he started all 17 games. The BYU product went down six plays into the Saints rematch, but his injury ended up being slightly less severe than Corbett’s. Pro Football Focus rated Corbett as a top-20 guard last season but slotted Christensen 55th at the position. He and Corbett are signed through 2024.

Just as the Panthers dropped Pat Elflein, they re-signed center Bradley Bozeman to round out their O-line quintet. Carolina may also be eyeing more continuity up front, per Newton, who notes Cameron Erving may well remain on the radar as a swing option behind Ekwonu and longtime right tackle Taylor Moton. Erving signed a two-year, $10MM deal in 2021 and started all nine games he played for the Panthers that year. Despite Erving not being the one to stop the Panthers’ longtime left tackle merry-go-round, he appears to be under consideration for a second Carolina contract.

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