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Updates on NFC South: Ikem Ekwonu, Rich McKay, and Raheem Morris discuss Falcons and Panthers

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Falcons

  • Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk mentions Rams DC Raheem Morris as a name to watch for the Falcons’ head-coaching job should they not pursue a deal with Bill Belichick.
  • Florio also mentions that the presence of Falcons CEO Rich McKay could create a strange dynamic if the team wants to hire Belichick as their next head coach.
  • An NFL executive tells Florio that McKay likely won’t be inclined to support Belichick as the hire, as the two have been “at odds in the past over rules changes” in the past.
  • Florio’s source predicted that Belichick would take the job only if McKay is completely frozen out of football operations.

Panthers

Panthers LT Ikem Ekwonu had a rough season trying to protect rookie QB Bryce Young, with some believing he is better off as an interior lineman, with one NFC veteran scout calling Ekwonu an average starter who lacks the agility to handle speed rushers.

Panthers RG Austin Corbett was asked if Ekwonu should stay at left tackle, adding that it’s difficult to play on the offensive line in the NFL.

“He’s freakin’ athletic. He’s freakin’ strong. The things that he does, it’s truly impressive. I know it’s not what Twitter’s gonna say and Twitter wants to disagree with me,” Corbett said, via Joseph Person of The Athletic. “But Ickey is a freakin’ athlete. He’s a true competitor. He watches his game and he understands. I know he’s plenty capable of it. That’s how hard the offensive line is and just the mental strain that it is. It frickin’ wears on ya. And there’s nothing you can do to get around it.”

Panthers OC Thomas Brown also weighed in on Ekwonu, with Ekwonu himself appreciating the offensive coordinator having his back after admitting he let things snowball and lost confidence in 2023.

“Guys in this league from an outside rusher’s standpoint are paid a bunch of money to go sack the quarterback. And those guys naturally are always going to be wired more athletic than most tackles,” Brown said of Ekwonu. “So I think being able — whether it be him or anybody else — it’s important to be aware of that from a third-down standpoint when it comes to either the ball coming out fast or giving those guys some help on the side from a chip protection standpoint.”

“At the end of the day, I get paid to do things in this league just like everybody else. And if I’m not getting my job done I can’t really point fingers at anybody or scheme or any of that sort of stuff,” Ekwonu commented. “I’m out there on the field. My guys depend on me and too many times this year I let ’em down.”

“I got beat early on some things in the year and I kind of just let that carry over into more and more games, and I can’t do that,” Ekwonu concluded. “I’ve gotta be able to move on from the bad plays and stay on my fundamentals, stay on my technique and I lost that this year. I’m gonna make sure I get that back and be more consistent for the team…I know the type of player I am and the type of player I can grow into as well. Obviously, it didn’t show up on tape too many times this year. But it’s not gonna shape me. I’ve gotta get right, study up, hold myself accountable, and do the right things this offseason.”

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