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2013 was a good year for Carolina Panthers. The team went 12-4 record and had its first playoff appearance since 2008. While 2013 was good, 2014 could be ever better. The reigning NFC South champions’ head coach Ron Rivera has some powerful new tools on the team to help him make it happen.
Filling the Receiver Void
Quarterback Cam Newton had ankle surgery in the offseason, but he'll likely be back at full capacity for the season. However, the mega star also faces another challenge before 2014 kicks off. The Panthers lost most of 2013’s receiver corps to free agency, so Newton must build good relationships with his new offensive weapons.
The Panthers snagged wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft. A lot of pressure rests on the rookie. Watching Benjamin’s hard work at camp, most expect him to turn into a receiver that Newton can not just rely on, but really trust. In regards to Benjamin, Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman told NBC Sports, “He made some ‘OMG’ catches in the rookie minicamp. He’s talented, he has good focus, he learns well, and it’s important to him. It’s really important to him.”
Outside of Benjamin, The Panthers also acquired receivers Jason Avant, Tiquan Underwood veteran receiver Jerricho Cotchery, who caught 10 touchdowns for the Steelers in 2013.
A Daunting Defense
The Panthers' defensive line is ready to stand up to the opposition. The team drafted defensive end Kony Ealy in the second round. While Carolina already has talented defensive ends, Ealy adds a fresh dose of power to the line. Depending on how much playing time he gets, Ealy could nab candidacy for the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year.
In addition to the defensive line, Carolina is stacked in the defensive backfield. Cornerbacks Charles Godfrey, Antoine Cason, Josh Thomas, Melvin White, and Josh Norman give depth to the position.
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The roars of passionate Panthers fans are sure to fill Bank of America Stadium at every 2014 home game. As they fight to receive the NFC South crown once again, they'll face tough opponents like the revamped Atlanta Falcons and the tough New Orleans Saints. Get in on the action live, save on every Panthers ticket, every day with ScoreBig.