Coach's Corner: Josh Henson on Kurtis Gregory

Carolina learned two valuable lessons last season: 1) offensive line depth is hugely important; and 2) linemen who can play more than one position are very valuable. Enter rookie guard Kurtis Gregory, who -- according to Missouri offensive line coach Josh Henson -- is a cure for what ails the Panthers.

For an exclusive interview with rookie lineman Kurtis Gregory, click here.

Kurtis Gregory started his final three years at right guard for Missouri. The 6-foot-4, 308-pound lineman played a key role in Missouri's memorable '08 season, when the Tigers ranked in the top-10 in scoring offense and total offense.

Gregory went unpicked in the NFL Draft and hooked on with the Carolina Panthers as an undrafted free agent. Now, he hopes his versatility and high football IQ will be enough to help him stick around.

For more on Gregory, we chat with Missouri co-offensive line coach Josh Henson.

LaShana Marshburn: You joined the Missouri coaching staff prior to last season. What did you learn about Kurtis in your one year together?

Josh Henson: The best thing about coaching Kurtis is what a great mind he has for the game and what a student of the game he was. He's an easy guy to coach from that standpoint. He enjoyed the mental aspect of it and was always into it.

LM: What is Kurtis like away from the field?

JH: Kurtis is just a country kid. I think his parents own a big hog farm, and if you look on his Facebook, there are pictures of him working out on the farm. He's just a real nice country kid and he's a guy that -- off the field here at Missouri -- spent a lot of time doing community service. He was on the student-athlete council here. He was always doing things for Big Brothers and Big Sisters and other community organizations. He's a great kid and happens to be very talented. I never met anyone who didn't like him.

LM: Shifting our focus back onto the field, what are his best attributes?

JH: How flexible he is. He's very good at center; he can play guard; and he can play tackle. I don't know if he is a left tackle -- I think he's a right tackle -- but he has the ability to play all those positions. He has the ability to move around on the offensive line and still pick up assignments. He has a total understanding of the offense and I think that's what is going to make him marketable in the NFL. He is also a very tough player. He was hurt but never missed games or practices. And in the NFL, they say the best ability is availability.

LM: Is there any one moment from his time at Missouri that really stands out?

JH: Probably our last drive of the Kansas game [last season]. The game was tied at that point and we're driving and we called a play where he pulled from his right guard position to the left and he pulled up into the hole and planted the linebacker on his back. Kurtis was very physical and dominated the whole play. We gained about 30 yards, which put us right inside the 5-yard line, which gave us the opportunity to kick a field goal and win the game with no time on the clock. When I remember Kurtis Gregory, I'm going to remember that play because it showed off his improvement throughout the season. It summed up what a competitive player he has become.

LM: Where must he improve his game in order to carry his success to Carolina?

JH: Kurtis is a guy that's very versatile. He's a guy that -- with his size -- can potentially back up or play all three spots up front: tackle, guard and center He's a very good snapper, and those are the things that make him very valuable, along with his mind. For us last year, there were games where he played guard and tackle on the same day and executed and blocked his assignments and didn't have any problems doing it. I think that's what makes him valuable. I think he has good feet and I think he's athletic. He needs to be a little bit more physical at the point of attack from a run-blocking standpoint; and I think he improved on that last season as the year went along. If he continues to do that, that will help him in Carolina.

Can Gregory win a spot on the final 53-man roster? Discuss in the message boards.

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