Panthers great Kalil ready for last hurrah

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Ryan Kalil hopes his final season includes another run at a Super Bowl.

Only two guys are guaranteed to touch the ball on every Panthers offensive play. One of them, Cam Newton, gets a good amount more attention than the other.

In fact, I'd wager that many NFL fans couldn't even name the other part of the equation. Center Ryan Kalil, entering his 12th and final season, is just likely just fine with that.

Kalil is the prototypical center. Highly intelligent and perfectly happy to exist in the relative shadows. He's been to the Pro Bowl five times since being drafted in the second round back in 2007, matching the franchise record.

Once a pup, who learned at the feet of vets like Geoff Hangartner, Jordan Gross and Jake Delhomme, Kalil is now the undisputed lead dog of the Panthers offensive line. He says his mentors offered him tips even when he didn't ask, so he tries to help out in the same way with the Panthers young blockers.

Kalil said earlier this year that he got most of his sentimentality about retiring out of the way in mini-camp. Now that the Panthers are on the eve of the season, he's focused entirely on helping the team try to make another deep playoff run. He'd also like to stay healthy, having played just 14 games in the last two seasons.

Kalil will transfer from football to the film world once he retires, as he's a partner in a production company with NBA star Blake Griffin.

Until then, he's entirely concerned with keeping Newton's uniform clean.
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