4 crucial matchups to monitor closely in Panthers 2022 training camp

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Jaycee Horn
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Jaycee Horn /
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(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns /

Brian Burns vs. Ikem Ekwonu

Expectations surrounding Ikem Ekwonu are through the roof. The Carolina Panthers haven’t had a consistent left tackle since the days or Jordan Gross and if the No. 6 overall selection meets certain targets, this could be the answer to the team’s prayers.

Ekwonu looks set to assume blindside responsibilities immediately despite head coach Matt Rhule stating that Brady Christensen is also in contention. The coaching staff can give the North Carolina State product a crash course in what to expect at the next level by pitting him against Brian Burns a lot during their upcoming training camp.

There is a lot to like about Burns’ chances of further progress in 2022. The defensive end is coming off a nine-sack campaign that resulted in his first Pro Bowl appearance and if the right improvements are made this summer, then his numbers should surge as a result.

Burns normally comes off the left edge. But the Panthers have some uncertainty on the right following Haason Reddick’s departure in free agency and the best way for Ekwonu to get himself ready is by competing with one of the most explosive pass-rushers anywhere in the NFL.

As the old saying goes, iron sharpens iron. Ekwonu will have moments of struggle versus Burns, but he’ll be much better off for the experience before coming up against Myles Garrett in Week 1.