4 Panthers players that must respond positively in Week 3 vs. Saints

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Robbie Anderson
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Robbie Anderson /
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Which Carolina Panthers players must respond positively during their season-defining game against the New Orleans Saints in Week 3?

It’s only Week 3, but things are teetering on the brink of oblivion for the Carolina Panthers. Two straight losses to begin the campaign, nine defeats in a row dating back to last season, and a 10-25 record under Matt Rhule have evaporated any optimism surrounding this organization despite a positive offseason of recruitment and structure.

The Panthers face a daunting run over games over the next five weeks. This begins with a divisional clash against the New Orleans Saints, who come into the contest at 1-1 but look primed for another postseason push if everyone stays healthy.

This is a significant test for a team devoid of any real confidence. Although those within the locker room are taking encouragement from the fact they’ve been defeated by two late field goals in the face of Jacoby Brissett and Daniel Jones.

Without further ado, here are four Panthers players that must respond positively against the Saints in Week 3.

Player No. 1

Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Ikem Ekwonu /

Ikem Ekwonu – Carolina Panthers OT

It’s much too early for the Carolina Panthers to press the panic button where Ikem Ekwonu is concerned. The No. 6 overall selection was always going to go through complications right out of the gate, which doesn’t promise to get any easier this weekend against a stout New Orleans Saints defensive front.

The North Carolina State product was much better in Week 2, even though he did give up a costly sack late in proceedings. New Orleans and Cameron Jordan, in particular, will once again test Ekwonu, who has to hold up more consistently in crucial situations.

It’s a gradual process and a rookie rollercoaster with Ekwonu. But he must stand up to what’s projected to be some significant pressure this Sunday.