The Carolina Panthers suffered a major blow to their defensive line before their first practice session at training camp was over. Starting defensive tackle Maake Kemoeatu went down with what was later discovered to be a torn achilles tendon during a non-contact drill on Monday, likely ending his season before it begins.
Initial reports indicated that Kemoeatu had been rolled up on during a scrimmage-type drill, but it was later learned that the injury had been suffered with no contact.
Kemoeatu's injury will present a serious problem for the Panthers defense as their reserves at the defensive tackle position are brutally inexperienced. Nick Hayden, with three career tackles, is the Panthers most experienced backup at the position.
Undrafted rookie Marlon Favorite took Kemoeatu's place in Monday's morning session. It's uncertain how the Panthers will replace Kemoeatu going forward, but Favorite is used to the rotation-style defensive line that Ron Meeks will implement from his days at LSU, where he shared time with 2008 first-round pick Glenn Dorsey and Ricky Jean-Francois among others.
Kemoeatu was a staple in the Panthers run defense last year. His massive size (6'5" 345 lbs.) often times occupied two offensive linemen. Kemoeatu presence was missed in last year's game in the Meadowlands, where the Giants ran for over 300 yards on the Panthers.
The Panthers will likely sign a veteran defensive tackle in the coming days to accomodate the vacancy on the depth chart.