Carolina Panthers tickets began a new era of excitement last season as Cam Newton hit the NFL like a freight train. In a brilliant rookie season Newton racked up 35 touchdowns with his arm and feet and pushed the Panthers offense into respectability and at times, potency. As the 2012 NFL season begins there’s a newfound sense of confidence about Carolina’s chances in an always tough NFC South.
Newton is operating behind an improving offensive line anchored by Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil. Bolstered by the ageless Steve Smith, the Panthers receiving corps has a few likely candidates to emerge in 2012. Brandon LeFell offers some hope as a #2 receiver and if Carolina can develop another, Newton will post a banner season. The running game is still in good shape with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart forming a dynamic duo.
There’s still plenty of work left on the other side of the ball though, with lots of questions. Can Jon Beason return from injury and be as effective as he was in the past? Will Luke Kuechly live up to his draft status as a premiere linebacker? Is Thomas Davis healthy and able to go? In other words can the Carolina Panthers linebacker corp return to the form it had when they went to the Super Bowl? Ron Rivera is still looking for answers on his defensive line too, and while the secondary could get some help from an improved linebacker set, they’ve still got plenty of improvement ahead of them.
The Carolina Panthers are eying the NFC South the same way as the Atlanta Falcons: Open for anyone with the Saints struggling to overcome a drama filled offseason and the loss of their Head Coach. Always a rugged division, the NFC South is a wide open race in 2012.Eric Drouant