The wait is over to find out who will be starting at defensive end for the Carolina Panthers opposite Charles Johnson. Head coach Ron Rivera announced after practice on Sunday that Kony Ealy had earned the starting role.
Panthers.com’s Max Henson wrote that Rivera said about Ealy, "He has taken the bull by the horns. Kony has really stepped up. He’s done a really nice job, and I’m pleased with his development. He’s earned the opportunity."
Ealy has really shown up the past two preseason games with a sack in each as well as a forced fumble on Miami Dolphins’ Ryan Tannehill. The second-year player out of the University of Missouri finished his rookie season exceptionally well with a sack in each of the final three regular season games after only one through the first 13.
At 6’4” and 275 pounds, Ealy is expected to be a three-down defensive end due to his size which should help defend the run as well as rush the passer. It would also not be surprising to see Ealy slide inside to defensive tackle on passing downs.
This was the last really question mark for the Panthers’ defense entering this upcoming season and the starting lineup is now set, barring any injuries, for their Week 1 matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
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