4 Carolina Panthers players on the hot seat entering Week 9 vs. Colts

These individuals must step up in Week 9...

Ikem Ekwonu
Ikem Ekwonu / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
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Ikem Ekwonu - Carolina Panthers OT

It appears as if Ikem Ekwonu's sophomore slump is becoming something more concerning. The left tackle is currently going through some significant complications, with his performance in Week 8 against the Houston Texans another example of the inconsistency and confidence issues surrounding the former first-round pick.

The physical traits are all there for Ekwonu. That's why it's been so frustrating to see the one-time North Carolina State stud fail to impose his dominance consistently.

Calls to move Ekwonu to the interior are beginning to grow among the fanbase. However, the Carolina Panthers don't have anyone capable of manning the blindside aside from the second-year-pro - a scenario that's cast more doubt on general manager Scott Fitterer's roster building.

The pass-rushing tandem of Samson Ebukam and Kwity Paye will attempt to pile more misery on Ekwonu this afternoon. With the Panthers coming off a bounce-back triumph, this would be a good time for the lineman to show people what he's truly made of.

If nothing else, we'll find out much more about Ekwonu's resolve and inner fortitude. The Panthers rightfully still believe in the player who was taken No. 6 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft, but it's beyond time he started trending upward after a series of suspect displays in pass protection.