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Three Key Questions for the Carolina Panthers Defense in Preseason: Fan's Take

Yahoo Contributor Network

When it comes to winning football games, balance is important. The 2011 Carolina Panthers were perhaps the most unbalanced team in their history. They had one of the best offenses in all of the NFL with superstar rookie Cam Newton running the show. Unfortunately, their defense was just as bad as the offense was good. With some adjustments, additions and subtractions, the Panthers are hoping to drastically improve that unit in 2012. Here are three key questions that should get answered during the preseason.

Who will start opposite Chris Gamble at cornerback?

Chris Gamble seems a virtual lock at one corner position and the other one is completely up for grabs. Captain Munnerlyn spent most of 2011 with whiplash from the receivers jetting by him so he really needs to go back to his nickel position he excels at. Brandon Hogan and rookie Josh Norman intrigue me greatly and could surprise everyone. Norman in particular seems like the kind of guy that will be tenacious enough to stick. Darius Butler is another possibility.

Can Jon Beason and Thomas Davis stay healthy after major injuries in 2011?

Both Jon Beason and Thomas Davis are coming off major injuries and the 2011 season showed how vital they are to the team. Davis is going to take a reduced role with new rookie Luke Kuechly coming on board via the draft. That back up role could be what he needs to stay healthy and his presence is vital to a great defense. Beason is even more important and must stay healthy for the defense to truly shine. It remains to be seen where everybody will line up, but rest assured these two veterans are going to be important.

Will the safeties be completely different entering the regular season?

Charles Godfrey and Sherrod Martin are on the proverbial hot seat in preseason because they got lit up like a Christmas tree in 2011. The Panthers brought in some serious competition to push these guys in Reggie Smith and Haruki Nakamura. It remains to be seen who will be manning these positions but the competition should be good for everyone. I personally think that Martin and particularly Godfrey can be much better than they showed in 2011. We will have to wait and see what happens.

Regardless of how this shakes down in training camp, preseason and beyond, the Panthers will have to improve to compete in the tough NFC South. The division is too strong to give up points like they did in 2011, so growth is absolutely necessary. Here is to hoping the changes will be enough when the season kicks off.

*Southern is a huge Carolina Panthers fan that is convinced that he will see a Super Bowl Trophy in Charlotte within five years.

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