The Carolina Panthers began their first phase of spring workouts on Monday, reporting to Bank of America Stadium on a brisk early morning to work out with team athletic trainers.
The nine weeks of largely voluntary sessions will feature newly drafted rookies as soon as two weeks from now.
But six key players who are on the roster already are important to monitor.
It's a huge year for the wide receiver, who stepped into the No. 1 role last season when Kelvin Benjamin was traded to Buffalo.
The Panthers must decide whether Funchess is a player in whom they want to invest long-term. He's in a contract year and because he wasn't a first-round pick, a fifth-year option is not available to the team.
Olsen is itching for a strong comeback season following the first serious injury of his career, a broken foot that required surgery and placed him on injured reserve for eight weeks.
In 2016, Olsen became the first tight end in NFL history with three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.
It's no secret that Olsen has long been quarterback Cam Newton's most dependable target. At 33, the team may be looking for his heir in the draft — yet another motivating factor for Olsen.
After veteran running back Jonathan Stewart was released early this spring, head coach Ron Rivera said three-year backup Artis-Payne would get a chance to compete for the power-back role, operating in tandem with Christian McCaffrey.
It's likely the Panthers will draft a running back, but for now, Artis-Payne has two weeks to impress the staff without a rookie on the roster.
Rivera made it clear at the league meetings last month that he'd like to see Bradberry improve with a little competition added to the secondary, indicating that this was not the case with former third-year corner Daryl Worley opposite him.
Bradberry has all of the physical and mental tools required to become a standout corner in the NFL, but seemed to stall last season.
His progress from his second to third year will be crucial — and a deep class of rookies might be breathing hot on his heels.
Thompson will start in place of veteran linebacker Thomas Davis when the season begins, while Davis serves a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy. Since being drafted in 2015, Thompson has largely served as a backup to Davis and a situational player in their big-nickel package.
Thompson will also be expected to take on a leadership role through spring and summer workouts.
The second-year tackle/guard was a backup during his rookie season, only appearing as a stacked tackle in Carolina's "Jumbo" package.
This year, he may be tasked with replacing All-Pro guard Andrew Norwell, who signed with Jacksonville in free agency.
Moton's ability to step up into the role is a big factor for what Carolina will do in the draft to stock the offensive line.
Battle to watch
General manager Marty Hurney wants an infusion of youth and speed into the roster, especially at skill positions, and that will create healthy competition.
But where I remain the most intrigued is at nickel, where Captain Munnerlyn, 30, will compete for his starting spot with second-year players Corn Elder and Cole Luke. Elder spent his rookie season recovering from a patella stress fracture, so what he could add to the Panthers' secondary is undetermined.
Luke was an undrafted free agent pickup from Notre Dame who notably improved week after week in training camp, drawing the attention of coaches and even star linebacker Luke Kuechly.
The Panthers may have to lean heavily on their traditional nickel package with Thompson filling in for Davis to start the season. Finding the right player for that task, especially with additional changes at cornerback and safety, will be important.