Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 7/25/13
With the opening of training camp set for Friday, July 26, this year’s version of the Carolina Panthers has a lot of intrigue. This has been called a crucial season for Coach Ron Rivera (13-19 after two seasons). There are issues with leadership…issues with the running game…and issues with the offense to name three. For me, the biggest issue is what the Panthers will do on offense now that Mike Shula is the new coordinator. Rivera realized when former offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski left for Cleveland, he had a tough decision to make. He interviewed two candidates with head-coaching experience – Pat Shurmur and Hue Jackson. In the end, he decided to stay in-house and promote Shula. Last season, Shula worked well with quarterback Cam Newton (as the quarterbacks coach), but he has not called plays since he was with Tampa Bay. New quarterbacks coach, Ken Dorsey, tutored Newton at IMG during the 2011 lockout and, as an advance scout for the Panthers, met with him each Monday during the season to discuss the upcoming opponent.   Cam Newton’s leadership abilities have come under fire. And this year, he has a new offensive coordinator as well. The second issue I see as crucial is Cam Newton and his leadership abilities. Newton was the top overall draft selection in 2011, and while he has certainly been better than many critics felt he would be, he needs to mature. He did an adequate job with the read-option offense run last season, but Shula will be getting away from that. Too often last season, Newton’s body language was terrible. The conference is absolutely loaded with top-line quarterbacks, led by New Orleans’ Drew Brees and Atlanta’s Matt Ryan. If the Panthers are going to get over those two teams, Newton needs to not only be a better quarterback…make smart decisions…but show his teammates that one bad play is just not going to do anything to his confidence. Last year everyone saw him on the bench, sulking. Yes, I said it. I think he has all the ability in the world to be outstanding, but when he made a mistake (and he did…and will), deal with it and get your teammates back up. The third issue is see is the health of two players who could be keys for the success of the Panthers. Linebacker Jon Beason has already been shut down. He missed all but five games since signing a big contract extension two years ago. The Panthers plan to be very careful with Beason in preseason in order to be ready for Week 1 and the Seattle Seahawks. Running back Jonathan Stewart played nine games last year and underwent offseason surgery on both ankles. The Panthers have already announced he will be very limited in the preseason. I always enjoy going to camp to see the individual battles going on between players. Last year, it was the punter and placekicker battles that I enjoyed most. This year, there are several position battles to watch. More on that in my next report following Friday’s opening of camp at Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Sean Payton has ‘taken an interest’ in Johnny Manziel

Jags reportedly considering permanent training facility in London

Theo Epstein has great response to being named greatest leader

Peyton Manning says he is not interested in entering politics

Rob Manfred: WBC extra innings rule unlikely to come to MLB

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

LeBron James: Some Cavaliers players need to be tougher

Adam Jones: US motivated by Puerto Rico’s celebration plans

United States wins its first World Baseball Classic

Jim Ross’ wife Jan dies from injuries due to Vespa crash

Report: Larry Brown to meet with LIU Brooklyn about coaching job

Report: Jay Cutler garnering 'zero' interest around NFL

With Team USA's victory the WBC (finally) lived up to its potential

The NFL distraction playbook

Box Score 3/23: Team USA wins their first WBC title

The 'Duke schadenfreude season came early this year' quiz

Which Sweet 16 team should you be rooting for?

The Aesthetic: The world of player exclusive sneakers

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Steph Curry pushes OKC's buttons

Re-ranking the Sweet 16 for the NCAA Tournament

Lingering issues for each 2016 MLB postseason team

Box Score 3/22: Team USA is heading to the championship

The 'With teammates like this, who needs rivals?' quiz

What you need to know for the World Baseball Classic semis

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The NFL distraction playbook

With Team USA's victory the WBC (finally) lived up to its potential

The Aesthetic: The world of player exclusive sneakers

Which Sweet 16 team should you be rooting for?

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Steph Curry pushes OKC's buttons

Re-ranking the Sweet 16 for the NCAA Tournament

Lingering issues for each 2016 MLB postseason team

Eastern Conference bottom feeders to watch down the stretch

The 'With teammates like this, who needs rivals?' quiz

What you need to know for the World Baseball Classic semis

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker