Starting offensive lineman for Carolina Panthers will miss rest of rookie year

The Carolina Panthers’ offensive line has suffered another blow.

Rookie Chandler Zavala, who has started intermittently at both guard positions this year, was placed on injured reserve Wednesday after injuring a knee against the Titans.

The injury will end his season, the team announced.

The fourth-rounder started seven games this season on a line that has been crushed by injury. The N.C. State grad joins Brady Christensen (biceps) and Austin Corbett (knee) on IR.

Zavala hasn’t had the easiest foray into the NFL. Beyond being on a 1-10 team — and starting for an offense that hasn’t met its sky-high preseason expectations — he has also had to persevere after another injury, one that left him motionless on the ground in Detroit after a scary hit. He made his first start since that neck injury against Dallas, where he played every offensive snap, and he also got the start against Tennessee.

The line will now look to Brett Toth and Nash Jensen to help with offensive line depth, particularly after Cade Mays left Sunday’s contest against the Titans early with an injury, too.

The roster move puts the team at 50 players, meaning there’s room for players who are designated to return from IR but haven’t been fully activated yet. Among those guys include cornerback Jaycee Horn, safety Jeremy Chinn and linebacker Yetur Gross-Matos.

The Panthers play at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 4:05 p.m., which will be the first game of the season since Frank Reich got fired as head coach.