3 burning questions the Carolina Panthers defense must answer at 2023 training camp

Ejiro Evero
Ejiro Evero / Justin Edmonds/GettyImages
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Do the Carolina Panthers have enough reliable pass-rushers?

Much like the situation at cornerback, it was surprising to see the Carolina Panthers almost completely ignore their pass-rushing complications opposite Brian Burns this offseason. They did trade up in the third round for D.J. Johnson, but the Oregon prospect is seen more as a development piece rather than someone who can step in and make a lasting contribution right out of the gate.

The Panthers have enough salary-cap space to acquire another veteran if the right opportunity comes along before their Week 1 showdown at the Atlanta Falcons. But much will also depend on how Ejiro Evero perceives his current options and how they progress during the early stages of camp.

Burns is the alpha and a foundational piece. But who starts opposite him as the second 3-4 outside linebacker is the million-dollar question.

One could make a strong case for Marquis Haynes Sr. after his rotational production and outstanding start to workouts. Yetur Gross-Matos has also received praise for his transition from a 4-3 defensive end, but whether he can earn Evero's trust after a dismal 2022 campaign is another matter.

If not Haynes or Gross-Matos, then Johnson represents the wildcard with the physical traits to be absolutely anything currently. Amare Barno seems to be out of favor, although giving up on the former sixth-rounder entirely would be foolish.

It's well worth keeping an eye on this dynamic at camp. If Evero feels like more is needed, expect general manager Scott Fitterer to be aggressive in his pursuit of improvements.