3 crucial matchups the Panthers must win vs. the Browns in Week 1

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Ikem Ekwonu
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Ikem Ekwonu /
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Carolina Panthers
(Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports) Ikem Ekwonu /

Carolina Panthers OTs vs. Browns edge rush

The matchup that is most concerning on the offensive side of the ball for Ben McAdoo comes from a dominant-looking edge-rushing tandem on the Cleveland Browns.

Ikem Ekwonu – the No. 6 overall selection in 2022 – is a very talented player with a high ceiling. For this to be the first start, he couldn’t have had a tougher assignment than Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney.

Garrett is arguably the best pass rusher in the game. His approach is likely to resemble a shark who smells blood in the water as he opens up against the North Carolina State product on his competitive debut.

Ekwonu will get plenty of help. However, there is only so much you can do to stop a player as dominant as Garrett in the pass-and-run game due to his rare combination of explosiveness, strength, and dominance.

The Carolina Panthers should expect some growing pains from Ekwonu. But stud right tackle Taylor Moton should provide enough on the right-hand side to counteract Clowney’s threat.

This is an invaluable opportunity to go against one of the premier rushers in the league. Something that will help Ekwonu grow up quicker.

Ekwonu will have to play very fundamentally sound in the passing game to give Baker Mayfield and this offense a chance to move the ball. If they can’t, then it represents a real complication.