Panthers OT Ikem Ekwonu: I was ‘riding the coattails’ of my rookie season in 2023

Carolina Panthers left tackle Ikem Ekwonu didn’t seem to take a step forward in his sophomore season. Heck, some may even say he took a step back.

And on Wednesday, he explained why that may have been the case.

Ekwonu spoke to reporters after today’s session of team organized activities. He was asked what he’s done this offseason to move on from a bumpy 2023.

“I think one of the biggest things—I’ve been meeting with my coaching staff a little more closely,” Ekwonu replied. “I feel like last year, I didn’t really take advantage of the resources that I had available to me. I feel I kinda just . . . kinda just, I guess, riding the coattails of that rookie season a little bit. Feel like I was at a place where I just wasn’t. Wasn’t afraid this year to reach out and ask for some help. Go over film with the guys, some of the new guys we have in the building. And I think it’s definitely helped me out.”

Ekwonu put forth a promising rookie campaign in 2022. After a very rough debut against the Cleveland Browns and star Myles Garrett in Week 1, the sixth overall pick went on to allow just four sacks in the team’s remaining 16 games.

This past season wasn’t as solid for the 6-foot-4, 320-pounder, who was charged with 11 sacks and 44 pressures—17 more than his 27 pressures allowed from 2022.

His struggles in pass protection contributed to the constant troubles for rookie quarterback Bryce Young, who was sacked a total of 62 times.

Story originally appeared on Panthers Wire