Brady Christensen

Panthers G Brady Christensen Out For Year

SEPTMEBER 16: Frank Reich made the announcement today that second-year interior lineman Cade Mays will start in Christensen’s place for now, according to Panthers staff writer Darin Gantt. He reportedly declined to specify whether Mays would start at right or left guard, though. Last week, Zavala made the start at right guard in Corbett’s place across from Christensen. That being said, Zavala played most of his college career, at Fairmont State and NC State, at left guard. This should give Reich some flexibility in how he wants to address his starting lineup with two backups at guard.

SEPTMEBER 13: Reminding of the situation to close last season, the Panthers will be without both their starting guards. Brady Christensen is now on IR. The third-year blocker sustained a biceps injury late in Carolina’s loss in Atlanta.

The injury Christensen suffered will sideline him for the rest of the season, David Newton of notes. Potentially a biceps tear, Christensen’s setback comes at a bad time for the Panthers, as it is not known if Corbett will be ready to return from the reserve/PUP list when first eligible. This will also derail some momentum Christensen had established as a guard. The 2024 season will be a contract year for the former college All-American.

The Panthers remain without their starting right guard — Austin Corbett — due to the ACL tear he suffered in Week 18. Corbett began the season on the reserve/PUP list. He is ineligible to return until at least Week 5. Christensen, who lines up at left guard, is now out until at least Week 6.

Carolina re-signing center Bradley Bozeman revealed a plan for the team to return the same five O-linemen from 2022, doing so despite changing coaching staffs this offseason. But it will be a bit before that vision can be realized. Christensen joined Corbett in going down just before the close of last season. The former third-round pick suffered a broken ankle in the Panthers’ season finale, and while he returned ahead of Corbett, more time away will now be required.

Viewed as a tackle earlier in his career, Christensen moved to guard on a full-time basis during the 2022 offseason and started 17 games. Chandler Zavala, a rookie fourth-round pick, started opposite Christensen against the Falcons. Chosen due partially to the injury trouble the team was experiencing at guard, Zavala will be a Panthers starter for the foreseeable future.

Cade Mays, Calvin Throckmorton and rookie UDFA Nash Jensen reside as options to replace Christensen. The Panthers added Throckmorton off waivers from the Saints in August. Mays started two games last season, and while he made offseason strides, Zavala beat him out for the starting job. Jensen did not see any game action in Week 1. Throckmorton made 20 starts from 2021-22 with New Orleans; he represents an interesting option as the Panthers prepare to face the Saints in Week 2.

Panthers’ Austin Corbett To Miss Regular-Season Time; Brady Christensen On Track For Week 1

Big-picture changes have taken place in Carolina this offseason, but the team is planning to place Bryce Young behind the same offensive line that protected Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold in 2022. But that configuration will not be in place to start the year.

Austin Corbett suffered an ACL tear during the Panthers’ Week 18 game in New Orleans, and Frank Reich said the expectation is the 2022 free agency pickup will not be ready in time for the season opener. In better news for the Panthers, David Newton of notes Brady Christensen — the other guard who suffered a major injury (a broken ankle) in Week 18 — is on track to be ready for the 2023 opener.

The Panthers gave Corbett a three-year, $26.25MM deal last year; after making every start for the Rams from 2020-21, Corbett did the same for the Panthers last season. His inability to make it through Week 18 unscathed could lead to a stay on the reserve/PUP list come August. Such a placement would shelve Corbett for at least four games next season, though the team could also keep the former second-rounder on its active roster and go week-to-week regarding a return window.

The Panthers factored the likely Corbett early-season absence into their draft, with Newton adding fourth-rounder Chandler Zavala is the most likely first-string fill-in opposite Christensen. After four years at Division II Fairmont State, Zavala transferred to NC State in 2021. He earned first-team All-ACC acclaim at guard as a sixth-year senior.

Carolina’s Ikem Ekwonu first-round pick last year led to Christensen sliding to guard on a full-time basis, and he started all 17 games. The BYU product went down six plays into the Saints rematch, but his injury ended up being slightly less severe than Corbett’s. Pro Football Focus rated Corbett as a top-20 guard last season but slotted Christensen 55th at the position. He and Corbett are signed through 2024.

Just as the Panthers dropped Pat Elflein, they re-signed center Bradley Bozeman to round out their O-line quintet. Carolina may also be eyeing more continuity up front, per Newton, who notes Cameron Erving may well remain on the radar as a swing option behind Ekwonu and longtime right tackle Taylor Moton. Erving signed a two-year, $10MM deal in 2021 and started all nine games he played for the Panthers that year. Despite Erving not being the one to stop the Panthers’ longtime left tackle merry-go-round, he appears to be under consideration for a second Carolina contract.

Panthers Guards Brady Christensen, Austin Corbett Facing Injuries In Offseason

Carolina was hoping to still be playing football at this point in the season. However, after injuries to starting guards Brady Christensen and Austin Corbett that would have held them out of the playoffs, the Panthers will not be faced with the prospect of replacing 40-percent of their offensive line in only a week. Both linemen played every snap of the season for Carolina until lower body injuries took each of them out in the team’s win over New Orleans yesterday.

After a rookie season that saw the former third-round pick spot-start as a backup, Christensen took his opportunity to become a full-time starter this season and ran with it. While Christensen’s below-average run blocking kept him from grading out as a top guard in the league, his pass blocking ability graded out in the top half of NFL starting guards, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

The big-bodied guard broke his left ankle only six snaps into the team’s season finale, according to Joe Person of The Athletic. Person reported that “an MRI exam would determine whether (Christensen) would need surgery,” but there’s confidence that he will be ready to go in time for training camp.

The veteran, Corbett, was a newcomer on Carolina’s offensive line this year after signing as a free agent in March but immediately became a strength alongside right tackle Taylor Moton. Corbett graded out as the league’s 19th-best offensive guard, thanks to an impressive pass blocking grade.

Corbett’s injury was a bit more severe than his teammate’s. In an attempt to tackle Saints safety Tyrann Mathieu during an interception return, Corbett’s foot got caught in the artificial turf leading to a torn ACL, according to ESPN’s David Newton. Corbett’s recovery will likewise take a bit more time than Christensen’s. After undergoing surgery to repair the torn ligament, Corbett will strive to make it back to the field in time for the 2023 season.

The two are likely expected to resume their starting jobs once healthy, as both are under contract through the 2024 season, but the injuries could cause Carolina to seek some depth this offseason for the interior line. After a remarkably healthy season for their offensive line, the offseason poses the challenge of health for the Panthers’ big men.

Matt Rhule Names Ikem Ekwonu Panthers’ Starting LT

The Panthers had been in the midst of a competition for the left tackle spot this offseason, but the winner of that battle has been named. Head coach Matt Rhule announced on Tuesday that Ikem Ekwonu will be the team’s starter at the blindside moving forward (Twitter link via Joe Person of The Athletic). 

The news doesn’t come as much of a surprise, considering the draft capital Carolina invested in Ekwonu. The No. 6 overall pick in April’s draft, the NC State alum was the first offensive player to hear his name called. Part of a trio of o-linemen in contention to be the first selected at their position (alongside Evan Neal and Charles Cross), Ekwonu received plenty of interest in the build-up to the draft, including from the Panthers.

Carolina has been in need of a long-term left tackle since Jordan Gross retired in 2014, so it came as little surprise when they added the six-foot-four, 320-pounder. Whether he would start at tackle or guard became an important question after his selection, however. Ekwonu played at both spots during his time with the Wolfpack, leading some to believe he would begin his career on the interior. The chances of that seemed to grow when 2021 third-rounder Brady Christensen took a significant number of starter’s reps at LT during minicamp.

That was still the case in practice as recently as last week. Overall, though, signs have pointed to Ekwonu ultimately winning out for the first-team spot. With the latter’s position confirmed, Person tweets that Christensen will now compete with 2019 fourth-rounder Michael Jordan for the starting left guard spot. Especially in the long-term, a left side of Ekwonu and Christensen should give Carolina some much-needed improvement up front.

It remains to be seen (at least officially) who will be the Panthers’ starting quarterback in Week 1. Whether Baker Mayfield or Sam Darnold begins the season at the top of the depth chart, they will now know who is charged with protecting their blindside.

NFC South Rumors: Darnold, Christensen, Bucs, Murphy-Bunting, Werner

As Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield starts to run away with the starting job, questions have been raised about the future of incumbent starter Sam Darnold. When a rumor surfaced that Carolina may be shopping the fifth-year passer, general manager Scott Fitterer pulled Darnold aside to set him at ease, according to Joseph Person of The Athletic.

“I talked to Scott,” Darnold explained. “He said not to worry about it. To be honest, before he talked to me, I didn’t even see it. So I’m just gonna continue to do me and do what I can to put myself in a good position and put this team in a good position.”

Aiding Fitterer in convincing Darnold that he’s not likely to be dealt is Darnold’s $18.86MM salary. There could certainly be a team willing to make a call about Darnold if an injury occurs to their starter, but if the Panthers wanted to offload him, they’d likely have to eat some of his contract, as well.

There’s a good chance, though, that Darnold stays put. As Person explained, “in a league that saw only 12 teams make it through the 17-game regular season in 2021 with one quarterback,” the backup quarterback is still a crucially important position. And, while Darnold may not rank highly among the starters in today’s game, he certainly ranks as one of the better backup quarterbacks in the league. The backup job appears to be his, too, as long as the Panthers continue to slow play the development of rookie third-round pick Matt Corral.

Here are a few other rumors from around the NFC South, starting with another note out of the Tar Heel state:

  • As certain as it seems that rookie first-round pick Ikem Ekwonu will start the 2022 season as the Panthers’ starting left tackle, Carolina is still giving last year’s third-round pick, Brady Christensen, plenty of snaps at the position. According to Person, Christensen took the majority of the first-team reps this past Thursday at the position. Christensen has a highly sought after versatility that gives the Panthers the option of playing him as a guard or a tackle. With Ekwonu still expected to win the starting job, perhaps offensive line coach James Campen just wants to ensure his best backup option has enough experience at one of the offensive line’s most important positions.
  • The Buccaneers‘ interior offensive line will look completely different in 2022 after the departures of Alex Cappa and Ali Marpet, as well as an injury that may cause center Ryan Jensen to miss a significant amount of time. Trade acquisition Shaq Mason will man the right guard position, while the left guard and center positions are still up in the air, according to ESPN’s Jenna Laine. The center position is currently a battle between Robert Hainsey and Nick Leverett. Leverett is also competing for the left guard starting job with Aaron Stinnie and rookie second-round pick Luke Goedeke. A tweet from Bucs staff writer Scott Smith, though, may hint at one of the positions. Smith reports that assistant head coach & run game coordinator Harold Goodwin “hopes a decision (at left guard) will be made prior to the third preseason game” so that the new left guard can “build chemistry with Donovan Smith and (Hainsey).” Smith is projected to be the starting left tackle, so this comment from Goodwin may point to the fact that Hainsey has won the position battle at center.
  • We recently did a rundown of the Buccaneers’ cornerbacks room, but an update, provided by Matt Matera of the Pewter Report, may give us some new information. We claimed that Sean Murphy-Bunting was in a competition with Jamel Dean for the No. 2 cornerback spot opposite Carlton Davis, but that the loser of that battle would still likely get plenty of time as the top option at nickel. According to Matera, though, Murphy-Bunting is no longer working in the slot and is solely competing with Dean for the outside job. Matera adds that Dean seems to have the inside-track which will leave Murphy-Bunting coming off the bench.
  • It appears that Saints second-year linebacker Pete Werner has taken hold of the starting weak-side linebacker position next to Demario Davis, according to Jeff Duncan of Duncan comments that the staff’s confidence in Werner is high enough that it assisted in their decision to allow former starter Kwon Alexander to walk in free agency.

Panthers Not Committing To Ikem Ekwonu As Week 1 Left Tackle

When no tackles came off the board in the top five, the Panthers pounced on the opportunity to stop their revolving door at left tackle. The team has not had the same primary left tackle starter since Jordan Gross‘ 2014 retirement, and Ikem Ekwonu is positioned to be the long-term answer.

It is not certain that stretch will begin at this season’s outset. Matt Rhule said Ekwonu has a “long way to go” in his preparation to be an NFL left tackle, via Joe Person of The Athletic, who adds Brady Christensen took plenty of reps (nonpadded reps, but still) during the Panthers’ offseason program (subscription required).

[RELATED: Christensen A Guard Option For Panthers]

Christensen’s three season-ending starts at left tackle appear to have impressed the Panthers’ staff, Person adds. The 2021 third-rounder has gained more momentum this offseason. Rhule said earlier this year he should have played the 2020 first-team All-American more last season, and offensive line coach James Campen said before the draft the BYU product would factor into the left tackle competition. Rhule said Thursday that Christensen is one of the best players on Carolina’s roster, via Person, who adds this should point to Christensen lining up as a first-stringer — at either left tackle or left guard — come Week 1 (Twitter link).

An offensive line featuring the team’s top left tackle prospect since Gross and the evidently improving Christensen alongside him at guard would make the most sense, from a need-filling standpoint. Ekwonu would not be out of place at guard, having played there in high school and at points during his stay at North Carolina State. If Rhule and Co. deem Ekwonu — a 2021 first-team All-American — not ready, a left side featuring Christensen at tackle and Michael Jordan at guard would seem to be the play. Carolina also has versatile veteran Cameron Erving (nine 2021 starts) entering his second season with the team.

It has been a while since a top-10 tackle draftee did not start in Week 1. Greg Robinson, the Rams’ No. 2 overall pick in 2014, is the most recent such investment to begin his rookie year on the bench. Training camp and the preseason will obviously be a much better gauge of Ekwonu’s readiness compared to various nonpadded workouts, and the No. 6 overall choice being a starter in Week 1 should still be considered more likely than not.

Panthers Eyeing Brady Christensen At Guard

For the first time in over a decade, the Panthers have a young player positioned to be a long-term left tackle. The franchise will enter this season with a 10th primary left tackle option in the past 10 years, but Ikem Ekwonu appears poised to halt that streak.

Ekwonu’s arrival, however, is likely to move one of Carolina’s Day 2 picks from last year to a new role. The Panthers view Brady Christensen, a 2021 third-round choice, as a better guard option than he was at tackle, Joseph Person of The Athletic notes (subscription required). The BYU product has worked at guard and center during the Panthers’ offseason program thus far.

Christensen started six games at left tackle last season, allowing four sacks on 480 snaps. Carolina lost each of those six games, though the team had many other issues, and Matt Rhule said last year he viewed the rookie as an interior blocker. But the embattled head coach said earlier this offseason he saw some promise for Christensen at tackle, where he started the final three games of last season. Prior to the draft, offensive line coach James Campen also said Christensen would factor into the left tackle picture. Ekwonu going to his home-state team at No. 6 overall changed that plan.

The Panthers added new interior starters in guard Austin Corbett and center Bradley Bozeman. Taylor Moton remains entrenched at right tackle, leaving one open spot — left guard — on Carolina’s reconfigured O-line. Christensen stands to battle 2021 left guard starter Michael Jordan for the gig, per Person. A 2019 fourth-round Bengals draftee, Jordan has an extensive experience advantage. He has made 29 starts at guard for Cincinnati and Carolina in three seasons. One year remains on Jordan’s rookie contract.

Although Christensen was an All-American left tackle who generated Pro Football Focus’ highest single-season tackle grade in the site’s short history grading college players, it appears a best-five-blockers-type plan could produce a quintet featuring the 6-foot-6 lineman alongside Ekwonu next season.

Panthers Sign Brady Christensen

The Panthers have signed third-round offensive lineman Brady Christensen, per a club announcement. As the No. 70 overall pick, the BYU product will make $5.16MM on his four-year deal, including a signing bonus of $1.12MM. 

Scouts Inc. assigned a seventh-round grade to Christensen, whose stature and lack of lateral quickness might point him to the interior, rather than the outside. However, the Panthers were (and are) extremely bullish on him during the draft. Initially, the Panthers planned to take Christensen with the No. 60 overall pick. Then, they got word of the Saints’ interest in wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. Fortunately for them, Christensen was still there at No. 70, even after they took Marshall 60th.

Christensen, 25 in September, spent three seasons with the Cougars, blocking for No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson. It remains to be seen how the Panthers will use him this year, but it sounds like Cam Erving, Greg Little, and Dennis Daley will vie for the left tackle job. That may leave Christensen to fight for time at right tackle or one of the two guard spots.

With Christensen in the fold, third-round tight end Tommy Tremble stands as the Panthers’ last straggler.

Cam Erving To Compete For Panthers’ LT Job

When the Panthers signed OL Cameron Erving in free agency, Erving’s ability to line up at any position on the O-line was cited as one of his best assets. At the time of the signing, Joseph Person of The Athletic suggested that Erving would have a chance to compete for Carolina’s starting LT job, and now that the team’s summer roster is mostly set, Person confirms that Erving is very much in the mix to be Sam Darnold‘s blindside protector.

As Panthers fans know all too well, the team’s left tackle post has been a revolving door for nearly a decade. Whoever wins the job will be Carolina’s ninth LT in as many years, and at first blush, Erving doesn’t look like the long-term solution the Panthers have been seeking. The Browns drafted the Florida State product in the first round of the 2015 draft, but the fact that the Browns flipped him to the Chiefs for a fifth-round pick before his third pro season tells you all you need to know about his tenure in Cleveland.

He ultimately played three seasons in Kansas City, starting 25 games over that span and lining up at left tackle and both guard positions. His play was not good enough to convince the Chiefs to pick up his 2020 option, and he hooked on with the Cowboys last May. Due to multiple knee injuries, he played in just six games (five starts) for Dallas.

As Person notes, Erving missed most of the Panthers’ OTAs and minicamp due to an unspecified injury, though he is expected to be ready to go for the start of training camp. Trenton Scott, who played four games at LT for the Panthers last season, remains in the mix for the starting job in 2021, but he is dealing with an undisclosed injury of his own.

2019 draftees Greg Little and Dennis Daley are also in the running, but Person does not mention third-round rookie Brady Christensen as an LT candidate. Carolina brass was very high on Christensen and targeted him with the No. 60 overall selection before the team got word of the Saints’ interest in WR Terrace Marshall Jr. The Panthers nabbed Marshall at No. 60 and ultimately traded up to land Christensen with the No. 70 overall pick.

However, Scouts Inc. actually had a seventh-round grade on Christensen, and his stature and lack of lateral quickness might make him a better fit at guard at the professional level. At least initially, it seems that the Panthers plan to deploy him on the interior.

NFC South Notes: Saints, Panthers, Bucs

After trading down twice in Round 2, the Panthers planned to select BYU tackle Brady Christensen at No. 60 and add LSU wideout Terrace Marshall Jr. with a subsequent trade-up shortly after. However, the Saints eyed Marshall at No. 60, Darin Gantt of notes, prompting the Panthers to change course and select Marshall earlier than initially planned. Carolina drafted Marshall at No. 59, reuniting him with offensive coordinator Joe Brady. The Saints then took Ohio State linebacker Pete Werner at 60. Marshall, who now joins Panthers vets D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson, played a key role for LSU’s national championship team alongside Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase and last season after those future first-rounders left. He totaled 23 touchdown grabs from 2019-20. New Orleans cut No. 2 receiver Emmanuel Sanders this offseason and has been unable to find a steady complement for Michael Thomas for a few years. The team still has Tre’Quan Smith, who is entering a contract year, and used a seventh-round pick on a wideout (South Alabama’s Kawann Baker). The Panthers ended up getting Christensen at No. 70, trading up three spots to land him.

Here is the latest from the NFC South:

  • Prior to the Bears trading up to No. 11 and selecting Justin Fields, they called the Panthers about the No. 8 choice, Gantt adds. While the Panthers discussed trading down with a few teams before the draft, the Bears called during Round 1. Carolina ultimately decided moving down 12 spots, to Chicago’s No. 20 slot, was too much. The Panthers selected cornerback Jaycee Horn in Round 1. The Broncos aided the Bears’ quarterback quest a pick later, taking Patrick Surtain II over Fields.
  • This draft profiled as one of the weakest for defensive tackles in recent memory, and the class ended up influencing the Buccaneers to retain veterans at the position. While the Super Bowl champions completed a stunning effort of keeping their team together, GM Jason Licht said (Twitter link via’s Jenna Laine) the thin D-tackle class moved the team to re-sign Ndamukong Suh, Steve McLendon and Rakeem Nunez-Roches earlier this offseason. The Bucs did not draft a defensive tackle this year.
  • The Saints are reuniting with C.J. Leak, a staffer who once worked as their Combine scout. The Texans dismissed Leak as their assistant director of pro personnel in February, but veteran NFL reporter Aaron Wilson tweets Leak will return to the Saints. Houston hired Leak in 2018. Leak previously spent two years with New Orleans.
  • Staying on the scouting subject, the Panthers are adding Jared Kirksey to their scouting staff, Neil Stratton of tweets. Kirksey was previously on the Jaguars’ staff and has previously worked as a Bucs and Texans scout.