Carolina was hoping to still be playing football at this point in the season. However, after injuries to starting guards Brady Christensen and Austin Corbett that would have held them out of the playoffs, the Panthers will not be faced with the prospect of replacing 40-percent of their offensive line in only a week. Both linemen played every snap of the season for Carolina until lower body injuries took each of them out in the team’s win over New Orleans yesterday.
After a rookie season that saw the former third-round pick spot-start as a backup, Christensen took his opportunity to become a full-time starter this season and ran with it. While Christensen’s below-average run blocking kept him from grading out as a top guard in the league, his pass blocking ability graded out in the top half of NFL starting guards, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
The big-bodied guard broke his left ankle only six snaps into the team’s season finale, according to Joe Person of The Athletic. Person reported that “an MRI exam would determine whether (Christensen) would need surgery,” but there’s confidence that he will be ready to go in time for training camp.
The veteran, Corbett, was a newcomer on Carolina’s offensive line this year after signing as a free agent in March but immediately became a strength alongside right tackle Taylor Moton. Corbett graded out as the league’s 19th-best offensive guard, thanks to an impressive pass blocking grade.
Corbett’s injury was a bit more severe than his teammate’s. In an attempt to tackle Saints safety Tyrann Mathieu during an interception return, Corbett’s foot got caught in the artificial turf leading to a torn ACL, according to ESPN’s David Newton. Corbett’s recovery will likewise take a bit more time than Christensen’s. After undergoing surgery to repair the torn ligament, Corbett will strive to make it back to the field in time for the 2023 season.
The two are likely expected to resume their starting jobs once healthy, as both are under contract through the 2024 season, but the injuries could cause Carolina to seek some depth this offseason for the interior line. After a remarkably healthy season for their offensive line, the offseason poses the challenge of health for the Panthers’ big men.