Observer staff writer Joseph Person looks at the surprises – good and bad – of camp, the position battles still to be settled and other questions in his post-training camp analysis. For a text-only version of the takeaways, click here.
The most important moment of the Carolina Panthers’ training camp came during the worst day of weather during an 18-day span of unseasonably cool temperatures.
During Sunday afternoon’s steady rain, the Panthers took the reins off quarterback Cam Newton.
Newton had participated during the first two weeks of camp, but the team had been cautious with his surgically repaired left ankle and had not allowed Newton any running plays.
He also was held out of last week’s exhibition opener against Buffalo.
But two days later on a Wofford practice field where the footing was bad and the balls were wet, the Panthers had Newton run the read option for the first time at camp. After practice, coach Ron Rivera indicated Newton would play in the second exhibition against Kansas City.
“I think that’s huge,” Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil said Tuesday after the team wrapped up camp.
Through 14 practices in Spartanburg, the Panthers found a No. 1 receiver in rookie Kelvin Benjamin, seem to have decided on Byron Bell at left tackle and were reminded how good their defensive front seven can be.
But there is still plenty to figure out as they return to Charlotte to continue their drills and prepare for their final three exhibitions.
Rivera is concerned about the secondary, where three-fourths of the starters are new and one of the newcomers – strong safety Roman Harper – missed the majority of camp with a toe injury.
There also are issues with the return game, offensive line depth and receiving corps the Panthers will attempt to address before opening the season Sept. 7 at Tampa Bay.