Two of the three position groups on the Panthers that were the most uncertain heading into the offseason remain that way as the regular season is only a week away. The offensive line and the secondary could struggle in 2014, but the team had questions at those spots last year and found ways to patch up the holes, writes David Newton of ESPN.com. Hopefully rookie first-round pick Kelvin Benjamin can do his part to sure up the lack of receiving threats on the team.
Here are some other links from around the Panthers as the season draws near:
- General manager David Gettleman made a few gambles this offseason, and the future of the team depends on how these moves pay off, writes Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. Gettleman completely revamped the secondary and the receivers, and also franchising Greg Hardy will go a long way to determining his legacy as a general manager.
- Person also breaks down the team’s final roster, going through all the cuts and surprising keepers, as the team looks to build on a strong 2013.
- The Panthers have not repeated as division champions in the NFC South since the NFL realigned divisions in 2002, but has high hopes to do so for the first time in 2014, after going from worst-to-first in 2013, according to Person.
- While Person is optimistic, his colleague Tom Sorensen notes that it will be hard to replicate their success in 2013. He sees their records in close games will be hard to keep up, and it would be unlikely to see them go 5-1 in the division again.
- Part of the reason the Panthers are optimistic about making it back to the playoffs is their impressive draft record as of late. Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer notes that the team believes it has hit big on their last four first-round picks, with Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly, Star Lotulelei and Benjamin.
- Jones also writes that no matter what problems the team has on offense and in the secondary, the team is built with the front seven. He compares the team to a bucket of rocks, while they fill it with the pebble at receiver and corner, with free agents, the team has drafted big rocks and boulders along their defensive line and with their linebackers.
- Two surprises to make the team were Andrew Norwell and David Focault, offensive linemen who were on the outside looking in a few months ago, writes Bill Voth of the BlackAndBlueReview.com. Norwell is a former Ohio State Buckeye who played well in the preseason. Focault comes from the University of Montreal, and while he was outmatched at times in the NFL, the team was worried he would not clear waivers.