4 emerging leaders for the Carolina Panthers at training camp

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Teddy Bridgewater
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Teddy Bridgewater /
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Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Russell Okung /

Carolina Panthers Player No. 3: Russell Okung – OT

There appears little doubt that the Carolina Panthers will be leaning heavily on Russell Okung. The offensive tackle is arguably the most experienced player on the roster. And the Pro Bowler also has a Super Bowl ring to command further respect.

It has been an eventful training camp for Okung. Speculation regarding his retirement due to COVID-19 health concerns was quashed by the player. But it still leaves a slight doubt regarding his availability if things grow even more concerning in the weeks and months to come.

At least for now, Okung has made a smooth transition to Carolina. He has fitted in extremely well with his new teammates and has demonstrated the sort of leadership abilities that became a prominent feature to his overall contribution from an early time in his career.

Getting Okung to stay healthy after missing ten games in 2019 due to a pulmonary embolism caused by blood clots will be vital to the Panthers’ chances of succeeding. Teddy Bridgewater will need his blindside protector firing on all cylinders against some exceptional pass-rushers set to line up against him. But only time will tell as to whether the lineman is up to the challenge.

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The early signs are positive regarding Okung, who is heading into the final year of his deal and will make a $13 million base salary in 2020. It does not appear likely that the player will be kept around with this sort of financial outlay. But he might get a longer-term commitment if he performs and stays injury-free.