As the Panthers second-string offense ran situational drills during organized team activities Thursday, three-time Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil talked to rookie guard Edmund Kugbila on the sideline.

His hand on Kugbila’s shoulder, Kalil told the Panthers’ fourth-round draft pick to keep working hard and take as many mental reps as possible.

“Just soak it up,” Kugbila recalled Kalil saying.

That’s all the 6-foot-4, 315-pound guard can do right now. He missed most of the Panthers’ 10 OTAs during the past three weeks with what he referred to as a sore left leg. He participated in some light drills Thursday but sat out most of the day.

“It’s tough because it’s really about learning the techniques more than anything else,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said of Kugbila missing OTAs. “He’s a bright kid, a smart young man. He seems to be picking the things up well, but until you get to apply what you’re learning, it’s hard to tell where he is.”

The Panthers have slotted Kugbila behind Geoff Hangartner at right guard, where Kugbila played during his final season at Division II Valdosta State.

Kugbila showed versatility at Valdosta State, playing guard or tackle on either side of the line. But the gap between talent in Division II football and the NFL is comparable to the distance between his native Ghana and Bank of America Stadium.