5 major storylines to monitor at Panthers mandatory minicamp in 2022

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Ikem Ekwonu and Cade Mays
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Ikem Ekwonu and Cade Mays /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Ikem Ekwonu /

Carolina Panthers’ battle in the trenches

One of the best battles to watch over the upcoming mandatory minicamp will be in the trenches. The Carolina Panthers invested heavily in strengthening their offensive line this offseason, which will be put to the test right out of the gate by a defensive front that is loaded with dynamic playmakers.

Players like Bradley Bozeman and Austin Corbett know how to handle this stage of the offseason. For Ikem Ekwonu, it’s all about learning on the job and getting as much solid experience as possible against the likes of Brian Burns, Yetur Gross-Matos, and Marquis Haynes.

There is no substitute for real action, but if Ekwonu can hold his own – especially when Burns is standing opposite him across the line of scrimmage – then it will be a big confidence boost ahead of training camp in Spartanburg.

The pass-rush also needs to make a big early impression in the absence of Haason Reddick, who left for the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency. This puts the onus on others to increase their influence and getting off on the correct foot in the coming days will be a huge win for players like Gross-Matos and Haynes as they look to emerge from depth chart pieces into consistent starters.

This will be a fascinating element to practice over the next few days. But an added sense of competition could bring the best out of both sides in readiness for real action.