Carolina Panthers react to Fan Fest performance questions ahead of match-up with Washington
Panthers excite fans with upbeat performance during Fan Fest while they continue to weigh QB options
Earlier this week the Carolina Panthers wrapped up their 2022 Training Camp in Spartanburg South Carolina. It was a camp that showcased the growth of some players returning from injury and others just trying to extend the life of their careers after a previous year of less than stellar performances. it was also a glimpse into what might be a brighter future for Carolina. Part of that forward looking vision includes the future starting quarterback for the Panthers - a battle being waged between the laid back incumbent Sam Darnold and the spicier version of signal callers Baker Mayfield.
Head Coach Matt Rhule reflected on the undecided Quarterback competition between Darnold and Mayfield as the team closed out the final session in Spartanburg on Wednesday. "Every day brings new evidence, Every day brings new insights ...pleased with where it's at but not ready to make a decision," Rhule said.
During Thursday night's Fan Fest Rhule did not name a starter for the team's upcoming preseason game but did, however, give further clarification on his strategy for the next tests for the quarterbacks that will help his staff make the final decision on a starter for the season.
"I will play each quarterback for one series and then try to get those guys out and play the rest of the guys the rest of the game."
Rhule went on to express his dissatisfaction for the team's struggles with the two-minute drill during the session - an area that was one of the more challenging areas last season as well.
As for the other areas of the team, General manager Scott Fitterer made some moves to sure up a big hole in the Tight End space after several key players including rookie Josh Babicz who was injured on Wednesday, were rendered unable to play. Fitterer brought in both Ryan Izzo and Nate Becker to sure up the position.
Rookie offensive lineman Ikem Ekwanu also spoke to reporters after the session. "I've definitely taken the right steps forward and being able to learn from some of the older guys has definitely been a plus as well," Ekwonu said.
Ekwonu, a Charlotte native, per reports by the coaching staff, is coming along at a good pace - especially in the area of pass protection technique. Ekwonu, now known simply as "Ickey" was taken aback by the experience of performing in front fans for the first time at Bank of America stadium. "It's cool ...the fact that I've been in the stadium before has a whole new meaning for me."
The defense held its own with regard to pass defense - or the closest thing to it until the team hits the field for their first preseason game. Where they stand in the area of run defense is where many critics are looking for improvement.
The Panthers travel to Washington for the first NFL Preseason battle with former Carolina Panthers' head coach Ron Rivera's Commanders.