Carolina Panthers must exercise patience with rookie Ikem Ekwonu

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

Carolina Panthers must give Ikem Ekwonu the benefit of the doubt

There is an argument that has flown around different social media platforms, especially Twitter, that the raw Ikem Ekwomu should be moved to left guard to help hide his flaws in pass protection. This would allow Brady Christensen to move back to what some consider his “natural spot” at left tackle.

However, it feels detrimental to Ekwonu’s development as a left tackle. It is unclear whether or not having him inside with Christensen at tackle would further his growth and hide any flaws on the Carolina Panthers’ offensive line.

As I mentioned in this week’s mailbag, the offensive line hasn’t been terrible by any means. The group is still developing chemistry and continuity following Matt Rhule’s competition stunt during training camp and throughout the preseason.

Better communications on stunts and twists as well as calling out different pressure points of opposing defenses will strengthen this group. This also appears to be early-season rustiness.

Ekwonu should be allowed to learn on the fly and grow from his experiences. That is and should be one of the key objectives for the rookie tackle.

Every snap he gets is another lesson. The early season struggles of Ekwonu may last the entire season and in some cases, it may even cost the Panthers games.

While this may seem harsh to say, it’s all about the new experiences and lessons gained for Ekwonu. The footwork in his pass sets should improve and his balance will get better along with other key areas such as hand placement and strikes.

Fear not with Ekwonu. He has all the physical gifts to be the Panthers’ answer at left tackle for years to come.

His rookie season could and may very well be rocky. Even so, it’s all about Ekwonu’s growth, the display of flashes, and the lessons learned throughout the season that could lead to a breakout campaign in 2023.

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