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June 20, 2014

Five observations from Panthers' OTAs

The Carolina Panthers concluded OTAs Thursday with the final practice of their three-day minicamp.

Five observations from the four weeks of OTAs (with a list of 20 observations coming in Sunday's editions of the Observer):

1 -- Cam Newton's choppy start Thursday -- he threw his first two passes high and missed on seven of his first 10 throws -- illustrated how critical it is for Newton to be ready for the start of camp so he can develop timing with his new receivers.

First-round pick Kelvin Benjamin plans to stay in Charlotte this summer to work with Newton, but it's impossible to replicate the speed and intensity of team drills. The Panthers must find a balance between keeping Newton's ankle healthy and getting him the reps he needs.

2 -- After Benjamin reached over cornerback Melvin White to snare an underthrown pass from Derek Anderson in the end zone Thursday, pro scouting director Mark Koncz mimicked Benjamin's grab in a gesture to general manager Dave Gettleman. Interpretation: That's why we drafted him. Benjamin's size is impressive, and he immediately upgrades the Panthers' red-zone passing attack.

3 -- With no live contact, the offensive linemen were unable to get the initial "punch" to stymie their defensive counterparts, who had the upper hand. If Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson are still beating tackles Byron Bell and Nate Chandler around the edge in Spartanburg, Ron Rivera can start to worry.

4 -- Gettleman and Rivera are going to have some tough decisions to make at tight end. New arrival Ed Dickson runs well and knows how to get open, while Brandon Williams looks more fluid in his routes in his second year. And those are just the receiving complements to Greg Olsen.

5 -- Safety-turned-cornerback Charles Godfrey was listed as limited at the start of OTAs, but he did very little in his return from Achilles surgery. Rookie Bene' Benwikere took most of the reps at nickel corner in Godfrey's absence, and showed good ball-hawking skills.

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on June 20, 2014 at 03:26 PM | Permalink


Cam Newton threw passes high? No! Say it isn't so! (It's not like we haven't seen this before...)

Posted by: Sam Vimes | Jun 20, 2014 5:24:23 PM

As soon as Cam develops some chemistry with Optimus Prime, I really don't see many DB's who will be able to shutdown that type of 6'5" to 6'5" tandem consistently. Ya he's sailing his passes high right now because he is still recovering and cannot really plant his feet or work on his footwork right now. He's just "winging" balls to his new receivers to develop some rapport, and to try to get a bead on his new WRs tendencies as much as possible prior to the start of training camp.

Posted by: Shaun NJ | Jun 20, 2014 6:56:15 PM

I like that name Optimus Prime. Hope he turns into a WR like Megatron and that name sticks.

Posted by: jason | Jun 20, 2014 7:52:38 PM

Cam played through multiple ankle injuries the 2nd half of the season. And it was later revealed that his left ankle has been bothering him since college. Once Cam recuperates fully from the ankle surgery, I think we'll see Cam step into throws consistently (instead off back foot). This will greatly reduce the overthrows. He still had a 61.7 % completion rate. With bigger targets, that could go up to 62.5%.

Last year, Cam's biggest improvement was decision making and going through reads. This year, I'm expecting footwork and ball placement to be the focal point of improvement.

Posted by: Nik | Jun 20, 2014 8:00:04 PM

Hey Panthers1995, in case you missed my post from yesterday: you have no idea what you're talking about man. Gettleman already stated in his post-game press conference that Cam "proved" he is the franchise QB.

Source: http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/10293367/cam-newton-proved-carolina-panthers-franchise-quarterback-gm-says

Cam definitely improved last year with 24 passing TDs, 89 QB rating, and 61.7 % completion rate, 4 game winning drives. Our offense was below average because of the shoddy O-line, old and hurt RBs, bottom 3 WR corps, and Shula's super conservative play calling.

Posted by: Nik | Jun 20, 2014 8:10:12 PM

Hey Nik keep running your jaw and when we go 7-9 I'm gonna run you off the Disturber...The team hasn't played a real game THIS year and GM's turn quick when the team goes backwards so we'll see JabberJaw!

Posted by: Panthers1995 | Jun 22, 2014 11:31:59 AM

Nik your thinking things are too automatic Imo. This is a different team on offense so I wouldn't be calling people out just yet as we Panther fans know back to back playoffs seasons are as rare as Teddy bear teeth!..Panthers 1995 has been around since the beginning and he's right more often than not.

Posted by: QB | Jun 22, 2014 11:37:48 AM

Ron Rivera doesn't have to worry. I can play OL. Check out my combine video. Panthers should give me a call.

Posted by: John Downing | Jun 22, 2014 12:10:24 PM

last year people said 8-8 or 7-9

Posted by: LB3 | Jun 25, 2014 6:17:43 PM

Don't start downing the Panthers, we will be better this year. I see us going to the SB and bringing home the trophy. This is how much faith I have in them. I am still heartbroken over Steve Smith, so we have to show these other teams we can get the job done. Hang in there guys, get the Epsom Salt, Red Alcohol and Lets Go Panthers. I must be the biggest fan here in Atlanta.

Posted by: BRENDA | Jun 26, 2014 8:29:58 AM

Do you mean the superbowl on Madden, Brenda?

Posted by: ATLiens | Jun 26, 2014 9:35:09 AM

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