We are halfway through Panthers training camp. Time to get our first real look at what the 2017 version is going to look like. QB Cam Newton won't play as he continues to recover from shoulder surgery.
That said, it's an important night for many youngsters trying to make the roster. Here are a few things to watch for as Carolina takes on the Texans.
- Derek Anderson, Joe Web, Garrett Gilbert. If Newton's injury lingers longer than expected and he doesn't play week one (GASP!), then Anderson will be driving the bus. The other two guys are battling for a position on the practice squad.
- Christian McCaffrey. Outside of Cam, he's been the most talked about player in camp. Don't expect to see a lot of him tonight. The Panthers won't want to tip their hand as to how he'll be used in the regular season. Also tonight's game or feature mostly the second and third teams which the rookie running back isn't a part of.
- DB's. Cornerbacks Darryl Whirley and James Bradberry took their lumps as rookies in. the rigors of NFL life. Your number two should be much smoother. Added bonus, help has arrived in Captain Munnerlyn who returns to the team. Panthers also acquired veteran safety Mike Adams. The group must gel together quickly.
- Kickers! Yes, I said it. One of the best position battles in camp is at kicker. The incumbent Graham Gano is being pushed by Harrison Butker. Gano slumped a little bit in 2016 making only 78% of his field goals. The two will be heavily scrutinized during the preseason.
- Which wide receiver will emerge? The Panthers have eleven WRs on the training camp roster. Trevor Graham a.k.a. TJ Graham from back in his NC State days, has an uphill climb to make the team. Realistically only two or three spots are open so Graham and the other hopefuls will have to bring their A-games.