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Ron Rivera: Byron Bell expected as Panthers' right tackle

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Carolina Panthers hope Byron Bell gives them the stability and dependability at right tackle that Jeff Otah never could.

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Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Tuesday that he views Bell, a second-year pro out of New Mexico, as the team's starting right tackle this season. Bell earned a roster spot last year as an undrafted rookie and started 12 games after Otah landed on injured reserve for the third consecutive season.

That news comes one day after the Panthers traded the talented, but often-injured, Otah to the New York Jets for a conditional late-round 2013 draft pick.

Bell will be counted on to help protect quarterback Cam Newton, the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2011.

"He played pretty doggone well last year," Rivera said of Bell. "We were one of the top scoring teams in the league last year with him in there at right tackle. We think a year of experience bodes well for him and he'll continue to grow."

The Panthers were fifth in the NFL in scoring and seventh in total offense last season.

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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