NFL Preview '11: Carolina Panthers
With training camps in full swing it's time to preview each NFL team for the upcoming season. Going from worst to first we start off with the Carolina Panthers.
Simply put, 2010 was an ugly one for the Panthers. Injuries and ineffectiveness at quarterback derailed the season as the Carolina offense finished last in scoring, yardage and passing on the way to a 2-14 season. With the first overall pick in last spring's draft the Panthers selected quarterback Cam Newton and the rookie is expected to have an impact right away. To upgrade the rest of the offense the Panthers re-signed a healthy DeAngelo Williams at running back and traded for tight end Greg Olsen.
Defensively the Panthers fared slightly better, ending 2010 26th in scoring and 18th in total defense. However with a decent nucleus of players the Panthers are looking to build from scratch. Defensive end Charles Johnson enjoyed a breakout year with 11 1/2 sacks and he was rewarded with a six-year deal in the offseason. The Panthers also re-signed linebacker and leading tackler James Anderson while extending deals with fellow linebackers Jon Beason and Thomas Davis. The real question will be how the secondary fares in the high-flying NFC South.
With a new coach in Ron Rivera and likely a new quarterback the Panthers will try to bury the disastrous 2010 in a hurry. After dumping salary last year the Panthers went on a spending spree which should translate into more wins in 2011. It may not be the usual South turnaround but the Panthers are headed in the right direction.