3 Carolina Panthers players entering precarious situations in 2024

Things could go either way for these Carolina Panthers players.
Terrace Marshall Jr.
Terrace Marshall Jr. / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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Ikem Ekwonu - Carolina Panthers OT

Ikem Ekwonu was candid in his assessment of how things unfolded during an underwhelming second season with the Carolina Panthers. The left tackle revealed he became complacent and set in his ways after thinking the job was done. That's a recipe for disaster in the NFL and he suffered accordingly.

Ekwonu was a shell of his former self last time around. The former No. 6 overall selection looks flawed from a technical standpoint and was constantly overwhelmed by edge rushers who treated him as a weak link. This was a far cry from his accomplished first campaign where he looked like a potential franchise cornerstone for the most part.

Giving up 11 sacks and conceding 12 penalties was a damning indictment of Ekwonu's lack of productivity. However, all hope is not lost just yet with the lifelong Panthers fan.

The Panthers are giving Ekwonu another shot on the blindside during the 2024 campaign. Last season's woeful efforts were a rude awakening in no uncertain terms. Whether he can raise his performance levels in the face of adversity is another matter.

Having a more prolific interior should help. Dave Canales is also adopting blocking concepts that will suit the North Carolina State product's strengths. The head coach wants to take advantage of his mauling capabilities as part of his run-first approach. This could be a spark that reignites the player barring any setbacks on the health front.

The jury is out on Ekwonu until further notice. He knows last season wasn't good enough. Proving it was a blip rather than the start of something more concerning represents the biggest challenge he must overcome in 2024.

Ekwonu's fifth-year option decision is looming next spring. He needs to cement his status beyond all doubt to convince general manager Dan Morgan he's worthy of the distinction - something that comes with a substantial pay increase along the way.