4 Panthers players that can thrive under Steve Wilks in Week 6 at Rams

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) D.J. Moore
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) D.J. Moore /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Ikem Ekwonu /

Ikem Ekwonu – Carolina Panthers OT

When looking at the performance of rookie Ikem Ekwonu this season, it has been solid with the expected lapses and head-scratching moments sprinkled in. However, this Sunday will be a test unlike anything else in the NFL as defensive powerhouse Aaron Donald is going to be lined up right across from the talented rookie.

While Donald has always been an interior specialist throughout his career, the Los Angeles Rams did something interesting against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 5. They lined up the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year against first-tear edge protector Tyler Smith with devastating results.

Smith looked absolutely lost as Donald powered through him play after play before the Cowboys finally adjusted to provide assistance. One has to expect that the Rams will be looking to replicate this on Sunday with the relative strength that the Carolina Panthers have along the interior in 2022.

A lack of preparation was a calling card under Matt Rhule and if this does not change under Steve Wilks, then expect Donald to have a field day against Ekwonu despite his improved production in recent weeks. It would also result in another long day at the office for backup quarterback P.J Walker.

At the very least, Ekwonu has to slow down Donald enough that the play can evolve toward the other side. And the presence of Wilks could be the motivational spark needed to take his game to new heights moving forward.