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Panthers' Rivera hoping 4-time Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil will be ready for season opener

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CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — The Carolina Panthers plan to be cautious with center after the four-time Pro Bowl selection sprained his left knee in a preseason game Saturday night against the Miami Dolphins.

Kalil won't play Friday night against the New England Patriots and will likely skip the preseason finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers, too.

"He's very valuable to us obviously," coach said. "We'll be smart. The whole idea being what we want to do once we get to Jacksonville" in the regular season opener on Sept. 13.

With Kalil out the Panthers moved starting right tackle to center and rookie Darryl Williams ran with the starters at right tackle.

Kalil is the latest Carolina player to be sidelined with an injury.

The Panthers lost No. 1 wide receiver to a torn ACL last week in practice and potential starting right defensive end tore his right Achilles against the Dolphins.

Both are out for the season.

Alexander was waived-injured on Monday. If he clears waivers, he'll revert back to the team's injured reserve list on Tuesday.

With Benjamin out of the mix, the Panthers are still deciding between , , and rookie as their two starting receivers, although Funchess remains out with a hamstring injury. Funchess is expected to return to practice this week, Rivera said.

Brown dropped two passes in the win over the Dolphins, including one in the end zone.

"He's going to make more (catches) than he's going to miss," Rivera said.

Defensive end remains out while battling a calf injury. He has missed the team's last two preseason games.

practiced Monday after it appeared he was a little shaken up a little when he dove for the pylon on a fourth down run against the Dolphins. Newton appeared to be limping some on the sidelines and didn't return to the game since it was his last scheduled play.

The Panthers are expected to decide between second-year player and to replace Alexander as the starting right defensive end opposite Johnson. Both players have a sack that resulted in a fumble against the Dolphins, but Ealy has been working more with the first team during the preseason.

"This is typical preseason," Rivera said. "You are going to get two or three (injuries) that are a little more serious than you would like them to be. Unfortunately we are at our two right now and that is where we would like to stay."


AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

PHOTO: Carolina Panthers' Frank Alexander (90) grabs his leg as a trainer checks on him after being injured during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Miami Dolphins in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)
Carolina Panthers' Frank Alexander (90) grabs his leg as a trainer checks on him after being injured during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Miami Dolphins in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)

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Photo Gallery:
PHOTO: FILE - In this Aug. 22, 2015, file photo, Carolina Panthers' Kony Ealy (94) squares off against Miami Dolphins' Jason Fox (74) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Charlotte, N.C. It's time for 2014 second-round draft pick Kony Ealy to step and become a starter after right defensive end Frank Alexander tore his Achilles in Saturday night's preseason game. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn, File)
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