The Carolina Panthers took major steps during the 2011 season and many are looking for even bigger leaps of progress in 2012. This is in large part due to the phenomenal rise of the offense under rookie Cam Newton and an improved defense that is getting back a number of formerly injured stars. As a huge fan of the Carolina Panthers, I certainly am excited about the changes moving forward. There should be plenty of fireworks at Bank of America stadium during the 2012 season. Here is a quick look at the more notable changes:
Luke Kuechly roving the field
The former Boston College Eagle is a monster on the football field. I watched him decimate the ACC for years before seeing him become the Panthers' number one draft pick. Now I get to watch him chase down the ball for my Panthers. I was originally a bit confused by the pick but now feel it was a brilliant move. He will be a fan favorite immediately with his non-stop motor and nose for the football.
A new return game with Joe Adams
Joe Adams is a guy that has to be seen to be believed. While at Arkansas, he was simply electric in the return game. Having watched him there and then during a couple of practices, I can tell you he will still be electric. I remember the feeling I got the first time I saw Devin Hester return the football. Adams gives me that same feeling. He simply moves at a speed that leaves others in slow motion. Expect major changes in the return game during the 2012 season. We could even be seeing a worst to first scenario.
A revamped secondary with more depth
Without knowing how the preseason will play out, it is safe to assume that the secondary will at least have some new moving parts. Chris Gamble will be one of the starters at corner assuming he remains healthy and barring a complete meltdown. The other corner is wide open for competition, however. Captain Munnerlyn will be pushed heavily and l think he will be moved to the nickel where he belongs. Josh Norman is the dark horse and I think the youngster will rise to the occasion. At the safeties, Charles Godfrey and Sherrod Martin return but are on thin ice. The Panthers added Haruki Nakamura and Reggie Smith to provide depth and possibly even take over.
Mike Tolbert adding wrinkles
I had no idea that Mike Tolbert was so talented. When he was first signed I was a bit confused. The Panthers already had a number of running threats. Now, it is easy to understand the move. He takes even more pressure off of Cam Newton and can line up anywhere. He also happens to be a monster blocker in the run game when called upon. Add in the fact he has incredible hands and you have a very exciting addition to the offense.
Old faces returning from injury
Every team loses players to injury, but the Panthers lost an incredible number of guys in key positions during the 2011 year. The offense and the defense will get an infusion of talent back with Jon Beason, Thomas Davis and David Gettis returning among others. It should be a great year to be a Panthers fan!
*Southern is a huge Carolina Panthers fan that is convinced that he will see a Super Bowl Trophy in Charlotte within five years.
More from this contributor:
- Why the Jeff Otah to Jets Trade is Addition by Subtraction for the Carolina Panthers: Fan's Opinion
- Three Reasons the Carolina Panthers Should Bring Back Jeremy Shockey: Fan's Take
- Why Carolina Panthers Fans Should Gladly Pay for Cam Newton's Autograph: Fan's Take
- Why Newly Released Luis Castillo Would Be Great Fit in Carolina: Fan's Reaction
- Three Passing Categories Cam Newton Must Improve for 2012: Fan's Take
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