Montreal native David Foucault is set to make his first NFL start tonight on Thursday Night Football as the Carolina Panthers face the New Orleans Saints.
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Foucault, one year ago, was playing for the University of Montreal Carabins wasn’t expected to make an impact this year, but injuries to several Carolina offensive linemen necessitated the quick ascension.
From Panthers.com’s story on the news:
Starting left tackle Byron Bell is out with a knee injury, and he’s also fighting through an elbow injury. This is just the second time in Bell’s four-year career that he’ll miss a game.
Carolina is coping with several injuries along the offensive line, and it’s accelerated the developmental process of young players like Foucault, who is still adjusting to American football after playing collegiately at the University of Montreal.
“He’s getting a feel for the speed of our game,” head coach Ron Rivera said. “It’s a little different coming from the college ranks in Canada. He’s getting better and better. We really believe he’s taken big steps.”
Veteran Garry Williams entered the season as the backup at both tackle spots, but he was placed on injured reserve with a back injury on September 27.
Rivera said guard Amini Silatolu, who played left tackle in college, can play left tackle in emergency situations, but he will miss his third consecutive game with a calf injury.
The Panthers feel Chandler, who competed for the starting left tackle spot in training camp, is a more natural fit at right tackle, and he’ll start there against New Orleans. Carolina feels Foucault is a natural fit on the left side.
Ideally, Foucault would have gotten more time to learn before being thrown into the starting lineup. But things don’t always go according to plan in the NFL. It may have come sooner than expected, but Foucault is needed now.
“That’s the situation we are in,” Rivera said. “It’s a tough set of circumstances because of the injuries.”
Foucault was the Montreal Alouettes first round pick this past year despite the fact that he had NFL aspirations. Foucault, unlike fellow CIS grad Laurent Duvernay-Tardif did not get drafted. He was invited to rookie camp with the Panthers and impressed enough that he was then invited to the main camp.
Even then, he was a long shot to even make the team, but made the 53-man roster and has been activated for several games this season. Now, he will face off against a Saints defence that also includes a CIS grad, defensive lineman Akiem Hicks. It won’t be a head-to-head matchup as Hicks plays left end which goes up against the right tackle.
It’s an especially nice treat for Canadians that this game is being broadcast across the country allowing them to see the Panthers – a team that isn’t shown much – for what is a special moment in Foucault’s career.
Among the main challenges for Foucault is the fact that the defence is closer to the line of scrimmage – a half yard instead of one full yard in Canadian football – as well as the general speed and skill of NFL players as compared to what he sees in Canadian university football.