CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – Ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft, Cameron Erving saw what the Panthers needed, then he saw the writing on the wall.
Watch Live: Panthers vs. Buccaneers (Sunday at 1 p.m., Fox Charlotte)
“I mean I had a feeling,” he explained. “They didn’t tell anything specifically but I had a really good feeling.”
By that point, the 6-5, 315-pound offensive tackle was six years into his NFL career, and he knew from experience, no job was ever safe.
“That’s just the nature of the business and that’s just how we have to be as athletes.”
But here in Carolina, Erving still had employment as well as an opportunity. Though he would no longer be a starter on the offensive line, the Panthers wanted him back for a second year with the franchise.
Except now, they wanted him to mentor Ikem Ekwonu, the incoming rookie who would be taking his spot.
“My mindset was to put my best foot forward,” Erving said. “Be the best professional that I could be. Be the best teammate that I could be.”
It should come as no surprise that this is not how most players would view the situation. Erving saw that during his rookie year with the Cleveland Browns. But upon surviving that 2015 season, the former Florida State star vowed to handle business differently if the shoe was ever on the other foot.
“You know it’s all kind of anxiety that I didn’t want him to feel that,” Erving said. “I wanted to welcome him in every way that I could.”
And Ickey would be the first to tell you he’s done just that. After surviving a shaky start, the 6-4 320-pound 1st-year pro has become a force up front, and he credits Erving for much of his success.
“He (asked) everything he would have asked as a rookie, he just answered for me up first,” Ekwonu says smiling. “He didn’t have me ask them. I appreciate it.”
To be clear at 30 years old, Erving says he is not ready to fade off into the sunset.
“I’m in the NFL. Yeah, I want to play,” Erving said. But if he can’t be out there making plays firsthand, he says he takes great pride in having a hand in others’ success.
“Really and truly, It’s just the love of the game. I love to see my teammates do well.”