Matt Rhule: Ickey Ekwonu “has to battle” for starting spot

NFL: JUL 28 Carolina Panthers Training Camp
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When the Panthers made Ickey Ekwonu the sixth overall pick in this year’s draft, the expectation was that he’d be installed as their left tackle for his rookie season.

That may remain the likely outcome, but it isn’t a job that the Panthers are just handing to the rookie. Brady Christensen has been getting the first reps with the first team so far in training camp and head coach Matt Rhule said this week that Ekwonu still has to earn the right to take over that role.

“I don’t think we’re bringing Ickey along slowly. As a rookie, you get opportunities, but you have to earn what you get. You have to fight and battle,” Rhule said, via Ellis L. Williams of the Charlotte Observer. “He certainly wants to be a starter. If he’s going to, he has to battle. Brady’s going to have to battle. And we’re just taking a very long approach here. We don’t need to make these decisions this week.”

There’s ample time for Ekwonu to prove he’s ready to handle the left tackle job by the start of the regular season and the fact that the Panthers have enough capable linemen to make him fight for the job would seem to be an upgrade on their constant scramble to find anyone to fill out the lineup last season.

7 responses to “Matt Rhule: Ickey Ekwonu “has to battle” for starting spot

  1. Pencil Ickey in at LT this year and write it in stone for the next 10-15 years. He will become a mainstay for the franchise. He will survive all players on the current roster.

  2. Most highly drafted OTs from 2010 until now, have been epic busts. I blame the spread and RPO offenses. OL don’t run block well in college and they certainly don’t pass black well either. See the NYJ RT for example.

  3. Frankly, I totally disagree. You do not draft this guy in the Top 10 and sit him for a team that really has no real shot at competing.

  4. At the end of the season, Ickey Ekwonu will still have his job at the starting left tackle for the Carolina Panthers and barring a miracle, Matt Rhule will be fired by the end of the 2022 campaign.

  5. You’d think that when you take a guy 6th that he’s filling a huge hole that no one on the roster can fill…but we are talking about Rhule, he had Mac Jones at the Senior Bowl for a week and his take away was let’s go out and trade for Sam Darnold.

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