Tyler Larsen, C
Tyler Larsen is by far the most experienced of the Panthers second string offensive linesmen, and given that he has been with the team for a number of years as a member of the active roster and that he signed a new extension a year ago, he likely starts at a slight advantage over the likes of Greene and Hearn. Unfortunately, the Bears game wasn’t exactly a great look for Larsen.
As a run blocker, he was largely pretty good, even if his hand placement could be a little better at times:
The real problem, however, was in pass protection. As a veteran player, plays like the following where he appeared to lack awareness of what his responsibility is are quite troubling:
But it’s hard to say that the bigger problem isn’t plays like the following:
And the best of the bunch:
There are a number of issues here, most notably his hand usage and balance, but given that he is now entering his sixth season in the NFL, it’s hard to imagine him taking any huge strides at this point – although, Larsen didn’t practice multiple times last week and hasn’t participated this week, so there may be an injury issue as well. Larsen can be competent to a point, and it is certainly true that interior rushers whose game is based around power are a particularly poor matchup for him, but the days when Larsen could be seen as a potential starter have passed, and while the Panthers don’t have a clear option to replace him at this point, should Matt Paradis go down at some point, it seems likely that they would rather move Greg Van Roten inside and start somebody else at guard than have to put Larsen into the lineup, something they have been trying out throughout camp.
Denis Daley, LG
With every rookie there is always going to be something of a learning curve, and when that rookie is a developmental late-round pick that curve is likely to be steeper still – that is largely what can be seen in Daley’s performance against the Bears. There were some plays where he showed good power as a run blocker:
And some nice reps in pass protection:
But there were also some things he needs to work on going forward. The most notable thing he could start to improve upon is his control as a run blocker. While he does have great power, he needs to be content with executing the play rather than trying to drive his defender into the next dimension on every play. By leaning into blocks in the way he did at times, he made it hard for himself to secure blocks, with defenders able to take advantage of his forward lean by sidestepping him, meaning that his power is directed not at the defender but rather at the ground:
The Panthers rushing attack, during last season at least, was mostly a zonal rushing scheme; so Daley would do well to focus less on driving his defender back and more on controlling his block and ensuring that his defender stays in the right gap. To do this, he needs to stay more upright going into blocks and make sure he gets inside hand placement on the defender before he looks to drive him backwards. This isn’t something unfixable, and is far from unique to Daley among younger players, but it is something that coaches will likely want to focus on with him in the coming weeks.
As a pass protector, he was actually really good, with the only play where he was technically poor being the following one, where he really needed to bend his knees more to give him the leverage to negate the bull rush:
Though, as with his run blocking, his play out in space on screens could do with a little more control:
It is worth noting that Daley is not only a rookie, but also changing positions from where he played in college, and while there is undeniably a lot of things for him to work on, his progress to this point is certainly encouraging, and it will be interesting to see how far he is able to come between now and the end of the preseason.
Up Next: Greg Little & Whether He Can Play Left Tackle