3 Carolina Panthers players who must unlock their potential in 2024

These Carolina Panthers players need to step up in 2024.
Bryce Young
Bryce Young / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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Ikem Ekwonu - Carolina Panthers OT

Ikem Ekwonu caused a stir by revealing some damning information during his recent media availability. The left tackle admitted to getting a bit too carried away with his rookie performance. He suffered accordingly, which he stated was a humbling experience and one that he didn't want to experience again.

Ekwonu thinking the job was done after one season of development is a trap many young players fall into. Complacency can be their worst enemy. How last season unfolded should provide the No. 6 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft with all the motivation needed to make a better go of things next time around.

The Panthers are giving Ekwonu another opportunity to become the franchise-caliber blindside protector they hoped before the draft. Some technical flaws need to be worked on over the summer. The player needs to build back confidence before taking the field in Week 1. After that, better production should arrive.

Dave Canales made no secret of his desire to adopt a run-first offense. This will play to Ekwonu's strengths. He's a brute force with mauler-like credentials on running-downs. Getting the chance to showcase these skills frequently is only going to mean good things moving forward.

This is a monumentally important campaign for Ekwonu. Unless he returns to the form of 2022 and provides assured protection for quarterback Bryce Young, the consequences will be severe. There's also the small matter of his fifth-year option decision looming, which could genuinely go either way at this juncture.

Ekwonu seemed almost embarrassed by his attitude last season. It was the primary catalyst behind his demise, so the North Carolina State product should be eager to right some wrongs when competitive action returns.

Things didn't go well last season, there's no getting away from that. Ekwonu must prove his indifferent performance levels were a blip and not the start of a concerning slide to irrelevancy.