4 Carolina Panthers players who could be benched after 0-3 start in 2023

It's not been great for these Carolina Panthers players so far.

Ihmir Smith-Marsette
Ihmir Smith-Marsette / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
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Chandler Zavala - Carolina Panthers OL

There was some intrigue about Chandler Zavala occupying a starting role in the absence of Austin Corbett. The rookie interior offensive lineman looked the part despite missing some of camp through injury, so giving him an opportunity was well worth doing until the experienced right guard was ready to return.

Things became more urgent for Carolna's protection when Brady Christensen went to season-ending injured//reserve after just one week. Zavala switched to the left guard position next to former college teammate Ikem Ekwonu, but it's not been the greatest start for the North Carolina State product all things considered.

Zavala looks hesitant, which is the worst trait an NFL offensive lineman can display. Opposing teams are visibly targeting his weakness, which was no more evident than at the Seattle Seahawks as the fourth-round selection allowed a whopping 14 hurries on the day.

According to Pro Football Focus, Zavala has given up two penalties and three sacks from 216 snaps on offense. But the constant pressures conceded coupled with a lack of ability to create lanes in the running game come with a torrid 27.6 grade through three weeks.

It looks as if Zavala isn't ready to start, which is fine. Taking him out of the firing line would be the best course of action currently, but the Panthers don't exactly have anyone capable of filling the void unless the coaching staff gambles on an undrafted, unproven player like Nash Jensen.

More experience on the line was needed. Another element of Carolina's preseason recruitment that deserves scrutiny.