Carolina had issues at every level of its defense last season, when it allowed a franchise-record 429 points. It needs to improve just about everywhere to be more competitive in 2012, but the club really can’t afford to have the same problems it did last year in the secondary if it’s going to close the gap with the division-rival Saints and Falcons.
The Panthers’ defense gave up the most passing yards in the franchise's 17-year history last season and ranked 24th in passing yards allowed. It was the team's lowest ranking in the category since the 2001 season.
GM Marty Hurney didn’t spend a high draft pick or sign a marquee free agent to upgrade the defensive backfield this offseason, but the team is counting on Brandon Hogan, a second-year player, and Josh Norman, a rookie who impressed during OTAs and minicamp, to battle Captain Munnerlyn for the starting job at right cornerback in training camp. Also, free agents Haruki Nakamura and Reggie Smith were signed to push starting S Sherrod Martin and, at a minimum, upgrade a lackluster special-teams unit.