CAROLINA PANTHERS (8-9-1)
OPEN CAMP: July 31, Wofford College, Spartanburg, South Carolina.
LAST YEAR: Panthers battled back from 3-8-1 record to become first team to repeat as NFC South champions - despite finishing with losing record. It was rough season for QB Cam Newton, who had offseason ankle surgery, fractured two ribs in preseason and later broke two bones in his back following automobile accident several blocks from team's stadium.
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IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: WRs Ted Ginn Jr. and Devi Funchess; OTs Michael Oher and Jonathan Martin; CBs Charles Tillman and Chris Houston; S Kurt Coleman; LB Shaq Thompson.
IMPORTANT LOSSES: DE Greg Hardy; RB DeAngelo Williams; S Thomas DeCoud; OT Byron Bell.
CAMP NEEDS: Panthers locked up Newton, TE Greg Olsen and LB Thomas Davis with long-term deals, keeping three key core players in place. They're hoping Oher is upgrade over Bell at left tackle and does better job protecting Newton's blind side. Carolina has added weapons for fifth-year QB by bringing back Ginn and drafting Funchess in second round. Team is also high on WR Corey Brown and likes re-emergence of WR Stephen Hill. Thompson, team's first-round pick, is expected to add speed to defense.
EXPECTATIONS: Panthers didn't lose much from last season and GM Dave Gettleman didn't have many holes to fill. With Newton healthy entering season, Panthers have to be considered favorite to take home another division title. Carolina was young team last year and played several rookies and first-year guys. Now those players have some experience and that should be beneficial this season.
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