Ikem Ekwonu takes over as Panthers’ starting left tackle

Carolina Panthers Training Camp
Getty Images

It was only a matter of time: After working behind Brady Christensen for the first three weeks of training camp, rookie left tackle Ikem Ekwonu earned a promotion Tuesday.

The No. 6 overall selection lined up with the first team and stayed there for the joint practice, Joe Person of TheAthletic.com reports. The Panthers would love to see him remain there for many, many years.

“We wanted Ickey to play and put it on tape in a game before we put him with the ones,” Panthers coach Matt Rhule said after the first of two joint practices with the Patriots. “We wanted him to go in a game and play and earn (it) with his play. So he played well in the game.”

The Panthers’ search for a cornerstone left tackle began after Jordan Gross played his final snap in 2013, which ended with his third and final Pro Bowl berth.

Ekwonu didn’t start in last week’s preseason game against the Commanders, but he played 16 offensive snaps and two on special teams in getting his feet wet. His time is now, which leaves Christensen with a chance to compete with incumbent left guard Michael Jordan.

Ekwonu got a chance to go against Commanders defensive lineman Montez Sweat on Saturday, and on Tuesday, he saw Patriots edge rushers Matthew Judon and Deatrich Wise.

“These are valuable reps for him,” Rhule said. “There were some plays that were good probably. There were some plays that I know weren’t very good. He’s going against Judon. They’ve got good players over there. It’s good reps for him.”

3 responses to “Ikem Ekwonu takes over as Panthers’ starting left tackle

  1. Ickey needs time. Not sure he is a LT, since he was a mauler at NC State. He mauled a few when he was playing in the preseason game. Once he understands the Pro Level, he could be very good. Darnold had a chat after he missed something during the preseason game against Washington. He was receptive.

  2. Don’t bet against this young man. He’s physically gifted with an IQ that matches. His size and agility will work well at LT, this being the new NFL, predicated on speed. He’s only 6’4″ short for the position. As the game evolves, he’s the right size.

    As much as I don’t care for Rhule or Baker, I am sold on Ickey. The kid is brilliant. Get the pancake syrup.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.