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10 Things Panther Fans Should Watch

The Panthers try to make history in 2014

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    10. History is not on the Panthers side in 2014... The Panthers finished last season as one of the hottest teams in the league. They won 12 games. The Panthers have never had back-to-back winning seasons.
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    10. History is not on the Panthers side in 2014... The Panthers won their 3rd NFC South Division championship last season. Since realignment there has not been a repeat champion in the division.
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    9. Can Greg Olsen be the star of the receiving corps? With questionable receivers on the roster, Cam Newton will likely need to lean on Greg Olsen... ALOT! Fantasy football freaks: pick up Olsen in every league if you can.
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    8. Can the Panthers find offensive leaders like the ones they lost? The retirement of LT Jordan Gross leaves a big hole on the offensive line. They did not address the need in the draft or free agency. Can Byron Bell and Nate Chandler handle the pass protection duties?
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    8. Can the Panthers find offensive leaders like the ones they lost? The Panthers cut WR Steve Smith. They were not able to pick up a receiver that has proven skills like Smith brought to the table.
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    7. Will Greg Hardy receive a long suspension? Greg Hardy was convicted in the domestic abuse incident with his girlfriend. Will Roger Goodell slap him with a significant suspension before Hardy's appeal is settled? Seeing as how Ravens RB Ray Rice was suspended for just two games after his incident, it is unlikley.
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    6. Can the backfield stay healthy? DeAngelo Williams did not score many touchdowns last season, but was still the workhorse for the Panther offense. Is he past his prime or will he have a career year with fewer reliable passing options on the field?
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    6. Can the backfield stay healthy? Jonathan Stewart's injury troubles are well documented. If he's healthy though, he's an asset as the #2 back.
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    6. Can the backfield stay healthy? Mike Tolbert had a career year last season. His battering ram style will be needed again in short yardage situations. If he's healthy, he'll sniff out the endzone.
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    5. The defense is top notch, but can it do enough to win? The front four will be stellar again, led by Charles Johnson. Greg Hardy's suspension (if he gets one) would be reason to worry at least for a couple of games. Rookie Kony Ealy may be called on for some early starts in that case. Kawann Short and Star Lotulelei should continue to improve on great starts to their careers.
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    5. The defense is top notch, but can it do enough to win? The linebacking corps anchored by superstar Luke Keuchly should not disappoint. Thomas Davis' resurgence is reason for mass celebration. The fear is, with fewer proven offensive weapons, the defense may be required to pitch a shutout or two. Can they?
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    4. Will the secondary over-perform as the did in 2013? There weren't big stars in the secondary last year, but everyone played up to or beyond expectations. Can they do it again? Robert Lester might be the most recognizable face left after the departures of Mike Mitchell and Captain Munnerlyn, and he's probably going to be benched.
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    4. Will the secondary over-perform as the did in 2013? The addition of veteran safety Thomas DeCoud may help Lester with his growth. DeCoud is believed to be on his last leg. Can he surprise the critics and put in a good twilight year?
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    4. Will the secondary over-perform as the did in 2013? Roman Harper's arrival from New Orleans gives the young guns another good veteran to learn from.
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    3. Can the new receivers prove themselves? Former Wolfpack star Jerricho Cotchery had 10 TDs and over 600 receiving yards in Pittsburgh last year. It was the first double-digit TD total of his career. In the previous three years he didn't play a full season and never went over 3 TDs and only sniffed at 500 yds once.
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    3. Can the new receivers prove themselves? Jason Avant doesn't get tons of yards or score many TDs, but he's got to be better than Brandon LaFell, right?
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    3. Can the new receivers prove themselves? There may have never been as much buzz for a rookie WR for the Panthers as there is for Kelvin Benjamin. Since catching the game-winning TD in the national championship for FSU last year, Panthers fans wanted him. He's a big target and should do well fighting for the ball with smaller corners. The odd are against a rookie being great right off the bat though.
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    2. Is Cam's ankle ready and steady? Cam Newton had surgery after the season to "tighten up" his ankle ligaments. Will he return to form? Can the line protect him enough? We like to think he's Superman, but he's got to have a kryptonite. Is this it?
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    2. Is Cam's ankle ready and steady? It's Cam Newton! He can do it all. If he's even 89%, you'd take him over almost anyone in the league. If anyone can make the rag-tag group of receivers shine, it's Cam.
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    1. Can Riverboat Ron do it again? Last year Ron Rivera was a dead duck early in the season. Then something snapped and he was leading one of the best teams in the league. He and his staff got everything they could out of the 2013 squad. He'll need to get a 125% effort again from everyone, if they want to repeat.