Biggs: Kemoeatu going through slow rehab

At this point, few expect Julius Peppers to return to the Carolina Panthers. Not at a cost of more than $1 million per game with his franchise tag number stretched to $20 million for 2010.

The Panthers will probably settle to have another defensive lineman return, nose tackle Maake Kemoeatu. The cog in the middle was lost in the first training camp practice of the year and if ever you’ve doubted the significance of the position, consider the Panthers went through four men trying to replace him. They failed.

Kemoeatu suffered a torn Achilles tendon and it’s been a slow process rehabilitating. He’s still not the the point of jogging, and might not be there for some time, according to Darin Gantt of the Rock Hill (S.C.) Herald. But Kemoeatu is on the road to recovery and the Panthers are optimistic.

Kemoeatu required a second surgery in his rehab, something that amounted to a skin graft according to the report, and now he’s going through the painful process of breaking up scar tissue.

“Everything’s going great, but it’s very painful for him,” agent Ken Vierra told Gantt. “They’re working him pretty hard. Right now, he’s got to pay the price. He’s getting the musculature back, breaking up the scar tissue, and that’s a painful process.

“For a guy who’s 31, it’s a bit of a reckoning. He’s always worked hard, but he knows he has to work that much harder if he wants to get back on the field.”

The plan remains for Kemoeatu to be ready in time for training camp, when the Panthers will likely be showing off a Peppers-less line.

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