Carolina Panthers' Complete 2012 NFL Preseason & Training Camp Guide

Jimmy GrapponeCorrespondent IJuly 20, 2012

Carolina Panthers' Complete 2012 NFL Preseason & Training Camp Guide

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    The Carolina Panthers are headed back to Wofford College for their 18th consecutive year of training camp in Spartanburg, South Carolina, since the team was founded in 1995.

    Cam Newton is returning for his sophomore season in Carolina, and Steve Smith is back for his 12th year with the Panthers, but there are position battles and questions that need to be answered all over the field.

    Will Brandon Hogan or Josh Norman win the starting cornerback position?

    Is Brandon LaFell a better receiver than David Gettis?

    Are linebackers Jon Beason and Thomas Davis both healthy?

    And are the Panthers any better on defense and special teams than they were in 2011?

    Answers to these questions, along with directions to training camp, preseason schedules and player analysis, are all right here.

    If you are a PSL owner or a diehard fan attending practices and preseason games, or if you are a casual observer who prefers to watch from his couch or favorite bar stool, let the Carolina Panthers' Complete 2012 NFL Preseason &Training Camp Guide be your road map and reference guide through the next month of Panthers' football.

The Biggest Question Marks

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    Every team has questions entering training camp and the preseason, and the Carolina Panthers are no exception.

    Here is a look at some of the biggest questions with camp only a week away.

     

    Is Thomas Davis Healthy?

    Panthers OLB Thomas Davis is attempting to become the first player in NFL history to return to the field after having the same torn ACL repaired three times.

    Davis restructured his contract after injuring his knee again in the second game of the 2011 season to entice the Panthers to give him one more shot at a comeback.

    Davis is a Pro Bowl-caliber player when healthy, but he became expendable when the Panthers drafted Luke Kuechly with the ninth overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft.

    Though he was a limited participant in offseason minicamps and OTA practices, Davis should be at full speed and ready to go when training camp begins.

    Hopefully his knee will be, too.

     

    Will David Gettis Return to Form?

    Another ACL victim in 2011, WR David Gettis, injured his knee in training camp a year ago and missed the entire season.

    Gettis started ahead of incumbent No. 2 receiver Brandon LaFell when both players were rookies in 2010, catching 37 passes for 508 yards and three touchdowns.

    Gettis was slated to start for Carolina last season before his injury.

    Carolina will find out if Gettis still moves well or if he has lost a step once preseason action begins.

    Either way, the 6'3", 220 pound receiver will play a big role in the Carolina offense this fall whether he remains a deep threat or is simply a possession receiver.

     

    Will Beason Give Up His MLB Spot to Kuechly?

    The Panthers surprised a lot of people by selecting All-American linebacker and Butkus and Bronko Nagurski Award winner, Luke Kuechly, with the ninth overall selection.

    Most analysts thought the Panthers would draft a defensive tackle or wide receiver with their first pick in the 2012 NFL draft.

    Kuechly will join Jon Beason and James Anderson in the Panthers' starting lineup at linebacker, but where he will play has yet to be decided.

    Kuechly played Beason's middle linebacker position in college, but Beason has played MLB at an All-Pro level in recent seasons while Kuechly is a rookie.

    Beason has stated that he is willing to move to weak-side linebacker if it will help the team and Kuechly is willing and able to play wherever he can help the most.

     

    Have the Panthers Improved on Special Teams?

    The Panthers' special teams were the worst in the NFL last season according to Football Outsiders, and they made it a priority to improve their coverage and return teams in the offseason.

    Carolina started by acquiring three proven special teams standouts in Haruki Nakamura (safety via Baltimore Ravens), Kenny Onatolu (linebacker via Minnesota Vikings) and Mike Tolbert (fullback via San Diego Chargers) through free agency.

    The Panthers drafted WR Joe Adams in the fourth round to return punts, and they selected punter Brad Nortman in the sixth round to kick them.

    Carolina's offseason additions will make them much better on special teams in 2012 after the same units cost the Panthers at least a couple of victories last season.

     

    Can the Panthers' Defensive Line Slow Down the Run?

    Carolina's defense ranked 25th against the run in 2011, giving up 130.8 yards per game on the ground.

    The absence of linebackers Beason and Davis was critical to the Panthers' overall defensive struggles last season.

    However, the defensive line was also bitten by the injury bug when DT Ron Edwards tore his biceps in his first training camp practice with the Panthers.

    Carolina's defensive front was subsequently overmatched and often out of position last season, as Rivera addressed in a Q&A with the Charlotte Observer's Joe Person.

    This offseason is already starting on the wrong foot with backup tackle Andre Neblett recently suspended for the first four games for violating the NFL performance-enhancing drug policy.

    But with a healthy linebacker corps and a more experienced defensive line, they should improve against the run in 2012.

    They will get an early test against the Houston Texans and New York Jets' running games, featuring Arian Foster and Shonn Greene, in their first and third preseason games.

Carolina Panthers Players to Watch

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    The Carolina Panthers return to training camp with a host of returning veteran players, new arrivals signed during free agency and rookies ready to prove their worth.

    These are some of the players you will want to keep an eye on if you make the trek over to Spartanburg, SC.

     

    Joe Adams, WR/PR, Rookie

    Adams led the nation in punt returns for touchdowns with four in 2011, and the former Arkansas Razorback has the starting punt returner position to lose.

    However, Adams will have to prove he has reliable hands if he wants to crack the offensive lineup and see significant game action as a slot receiver this season.

     

    Frank Alexander, DE, Rookie

    Alexander was the Co- Big 12 Conference Defensive Player of the Year and a second-team All-American at Oklahoma in 2011 when he led the conference with 8.5 sacks.

    He also led the Sooners with 19 tackles for loss and seven quarterback pressures last season.

    Alexander should have no trouble breaking into the Panthers' defensive-end rotation, and he has an opportunity to take over Greg Hardy's starting position.

     

    Antwan Applewhite, DT, 5th Year

    Applewhite is a locker-room leader, and he hopes to be an important cog in Carolina's defensive line rotation in 2012.

    With the return of Ron Edwards this season, Applewhite will have to fight to earn playing time from last year's starters, Sione Fua and Terrell McClain, as well as late-season fill-ins Andre Neblett and Frank Kearse.

     

    Jon Beason, LB, 6th Year

    Beason is the Panthers' defensive captain, and he will be anxious to prove he is fully recovered from the torn Achilles tendon that kept him out of the final 15 games in 2011.

    Beason looked healthy enough in an offseason workout video posted on YouTube in April, and he will be fun to watch from the opening practice to the final play of the season.

     

    Thomas Davis, LB, 8th Year

    Davis is attempting to do what no NFL player has ever done before, and that is to return to the field after tearing his ACL for the third time.

    Davis restructured his contract after being lost for the season in the second game of 2011 to ensure the Panthers would give him a chance to attempt a comeback with the only NFL team he has ever played for.

    Though he will likely occupy the fourth linebacker position in Carolina's 4-3 defense, Davis will be primarily used when the Panthers switch to a 3-4 defensive look and in blitzing situations.

     

    Ron Edwards, DT, 12th Year

    Edwards joined the Panthers immediately following last summer's NFL players' strike, but he tore his biceps on the first play of his first practice with the team in training camp and he did not play a single down in the 2011 season.

    Edwards is expected to help shore up a defensive front that was among the NFL's worst last season, and his presence should improve the Panthers' run defense in 2012.

     

    Armanti Edwards, WR, 3rd Year

    Carolina's other Edwards has been a disappointment in his first two seasons after being selected way too high with the 89th pick (third round) of the 2010 NFL draft.

    After the punt returner experiment failed in 2011, Edwards will get an opportunity to show he can play wide receiver at the NFL level, or else he could be in danger of not making the cut.

     

    David Gettis, WR, 3rd Year

    Gettis was a starter in his rookie season, but a torn ACL suffered in last year's training camp kept him off the field in 2011.

    There are big expectations for Gettis in Carolina, but also a lot of question marks as he returns to the field post-injury.

     

    Jared Green, WR, Rookie

    Green is the son of Hall of Fame cornerback Darrell Green, but he will not be challenging anyone for the title of Fastest Man in the NFL, much less fastest man on the Panthers.

    Green, who transferred to Southern University after a couple of relatively unproductive seasons at the University of Virginia, will have to prove his worth on special teams, but he is an interesting player to watch, if for no other reason than his bloodline.

     

    Greg Hardy, DE, 3rd Year

    Hardy showed a lot of promise in his rookie season and earned a starting role opposite Charles Johnson in 2011, but his total of four sacks was disappointing for a banged up defense that would have benefited from more pressure on the quarterback.

    Hardy added muscle and heft to his frame this offseason after a motorcycle accident set him back just before training camp last season, and he will have to earn his starting role this season after Carolina drafted sack-master Alexander in the fourth round of this season's NFL draft.

     

    Brandon Hogan, CB, 2nd Year

    Hogan missed most of the 2011 season with a torn ACL suffered in his final college game at West Virginia.

    Hogan is an active and athletic cornerback who will have an opportunity to wrest the No. 2 cornerback position from Captain Munnerlyn this season, but he will have to hold off the Panthers' fifth-round pick out of Coastal Carolina, Josh Norman, to do so.

     

    Thomas Keiser, DE, 2nd Year

    Keiser, a recent Stanford graduate, flew back and forth six times from Charlotte to Palo Alto this spring to complete his undergraduate degree while attending each session of the Panthers' optional mini camps and organized team activities.

    Keiser's determination to succeed is no surprise following a surprisingly productive rookie season in which he became a fan favorite after being activated from the Panthers' practice squad in Week 10 and totaling four sacks as an undrafted rookie free agent.

     

    Luke Kuechly, LB, Rookie

    Kuechly was Carolina's first-round draft pick in 2012, and the expectations are high for him to continue the Panthers' tradition of outstanding linebacker play.

    Kuechly finished his collegiate career as the ACC's all-time leading tackler, and he is just as adept at covering the pass as he is at stopping the run.

    If he is able to live up to his Urlacher-esque hype, Kuechly will give the Panthers one of the most talented starting linebacker corps in the NFL.

     

    Haruki Nakamura, S, 5th Year

    Nakamura signed with the Panthers during the offseason to improve Carolina's dreadful special teams coverage units.

    However, Ed Reed's former backup in Baltimore will battle with Sherrod Martin for the starting free safety spot, and he will be given every opportunity to prove he is worthy of the job.

     

    Cam Newton, QB, 2nd Year

    Everyone, and I mean everyone, is anxious to see how Newton will perform in his second season coming off a record-breaking rookie year in which he passed for 4,051 yards and ran for an NFL quarterback record 14 touchdowns.

    Newton is primed to have a better second season under offensive coordinator Rob "Chud" Chudzinski after having a full offseason of mini camps and OTAs with the team.

    Newton's passing yardage and rushing touchdowns will likely drop off in 2012, but his decision making, accuracy and touchdown passes should improve significantly.

     

    Josh Norman, CB, Rookie

    Norman may be the chattiest player on the Panthers' roster, and he loves to talk trash to and about the wide receviers he is covering, including Carolina's all-time leading receiver, Steve Smith.

    Norman is also a player to watch throughout training camp and the preseason as he competes with Brandon Hogan and Captain Munnerlyn for the starting cornerback position opposite Chris Gamble.

    Carolina's fifth-round draft pick could prove to be the Panthers' steal of the draft if he plays as well as he talks.

     

    Kealoha Pilares, WR, 2nd Year

    Pilares became the first Panther to return a kickoff for a touchdown in eight years when he took one back 101 yards against the Detroit Lions last season.

    Pilares, who had 88 catches in his senior season at Hawaii, has great hands and is elusive after the catch, but he will have to prove he can perform at wide receiver in game conditions.

     

    Amini Silatolu, OG, Rookie

    Silatolu was a surprise second-round pick by the Panthers in the 2012 NFL draft.

    The bruising guard from Midwestern State plays with a mean streak and is expected to become a dominant run blocker, but he will have to prove he can keep up with Rob Chudzinski's complicated and ever-evolving play book.

     

    Mike Tolbert, FB, 5th Year

    Carolina signed Tolbert from the San Diego Chargers this offseason for two reasons.

    First, to help out on special teams, and secondly, to play as a multiple-threat fullback who can block, run the football and catch passes out of the backfield.

    Tolbert will likely make the biggest impact among the Panthers' veteran offseason acquisitions this fall.

Best Depth-Chart Battles

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    One of the most exciting parts about training camp and the preseason is figuring out who is going to win various position battles, and the Panthers have plenty of positions up for grabs.

    Here is a look at five of Carolina's best position battles.

     

    No. 2 Cornerback: Captain Munnerlyn vs. Brandon Hogan vs. Josh Norman

    Munnerlyn, who started at cornerback opposite Chris Gamble in 2011, is a scrappy defender, an excellent nickelback in three-corner defensive sets and a solid special teams player, but he is not starting NFL cornerback material.

    In fact, Munnerlyn was statistically the NFL's worst cornerback in 2011, allowing an NFL-high 73.8 percent of all passes thrown his way to be completed.

    Munnerlyn will continue to play an important role on the Panthers defense as a nickel back this season, but Carolina cannot afford to start the Captain at cornerback again in 2012.

    Carolina has a pair of young cornerbacks in camp this season with 2011 fourth-round draft pick Brandon Hogan (West Virginia) and 2012 fifth-round selection Josh Norman (Coastal Carolina).

    The aggressive Hogan is back in action after spending most of his rookie year on the physically unable-to-perform (PUP) list with an ACL tear suffered against Rutgers in his final college season.

    Conversely, the rookie Norman was an FCS All-American in 2011 and one of the top cornerbacks in the 2012 NFL draft despite playing in the NCAA's lower Division I tier, and he was one of the most vocal players in offseason mini camps and organized team activities.

    Hogan and Norman will each have an opportunity to earn the starting No. 2 cornerback position away from Munnerlyn once training camp and the preseason begin.

     

    No. 2 Wide Receiver: Brandon Lafell vs. David Gettis

    The Carolina Panthers need a dependable No. 2 wide receiver to line up across the field from Cam Newton's top target, Steve Smith.

    LaFell had 36 catches for 613 yards and three touchdowns in 2011 despite playing Legedu Naanee, and his biggest game came in Week 16 when he caught three passes for 103 yards, including a Panthers-record 91-yard touchdown catch and run against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    Fellow third-year receiver, David Gettis, who tore his ACL in training camp last year, last suited up for the Panthers in 2010 when he caught 37 passes for 508 yards and three touchdowns as a rookie, but expectations are high for Gettis, as well.

    The position should be LaFell's to lose, but both players will see plenty of action and the guy who establishes the best rapport with Newton early this season will be a starter for the next several seasons.

     

    Defensive End: Greg Hardy vs. Frank Alexander

    Hardy had a disappointing second year in 2011, his first as a starter, when he totalled just four sacks in sixteen games.

    Hardy told the Charlotte Observer that his lack of production could be directly attributed to poor conditioning and not enough time spent in the weight room following an offseason motorcycle accident.

    Hardy has put on nearly twenty pounds of muscle this offseason, but that did not stop the Panthers from drafting another defensive end, Co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Frank Alexander in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL draft.

    Alexander led his conference with 8.5 sacks last season, and Carolina needs to place more pressure on opposing quarterbacks this season if they are going to improve their 24th-ranked pass defense in 2012.

     

    Middle Linebacker: Jon Beason vs. Luke Kuechly

    This one is not so much a battle for a starting role, but the battle for who gets the start at middle linebacker and who gets pushed outside to the weak-side linebacker position.

    Beason is the Panthers' undisputed defensive captain, and he can best call the defensive plays and set the defense from the middle of the field, though he has stated he is willing to play wherever he is asked to help Carolina field its best possible defense.

     

    Punter: Brad Nortman vs. Nick Harris

    Punter is not the NFL's sexiest role, but in the battle for field position, it is one of the most important.

    Carolina drafted Nortman out of Wisconsin in the sixth-round of the 2012 NFL draft after releasing long-time punter Jason Baker, but they also brought in a veteran, former Detroit Lions and Jacksonville Jaguars punter Nick Harris, to compete for the job.

Carolina Panthers' Preseason and Training Camp Schedule

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    No Carolina Panthers' Complete 2012 NFL Preseason & Training Camp Guide would be complete without the team's preseason schedule and a list of important dates along the way. Taken from the Panthers official website.

    Training Camp & Important Dates
    Friday, July 27 Players Report to Camp  
    Saturday, July 28 First Practice, Back to Football Party 4:30 PM
    Sunday, July 29 Practice, Play 60 Family Fun Day 5:00 PM
    Monday, July 30 Practice, Panther Pals 6:00 PM
    Tuesday, July 31 Practice, Panther Pals, T-Shirt Tuesdays 10:30 AM
    Wednesday, August 1 Practice, Panther Pals 6:00 PM
    Thursday, August 2 Practice, Panther Pals 6:00 PM
    Friday, August 3 Practice, Panther Pals 6:00 PM
    Saturday, August 4 Fan Fest at Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, NC) 4:00 PM
    Sunday, August 5 No Practice  
    Monday, August 6 Practice, Panther Pals 6:00 PM
    Tuesday, August 7 Practice, Panther Pals, T-Shirt Tuesdays 6:00 PM
    Wednesday, August 8 Practice, Panther Pals 6:00 PM
    Thursday, August 9 Practice, Panther Pals 6:00 PM
    Friday, August 10 Practice, Panther Pals 2:45 PM
    Saturday, August 11 Preseason Game vs Houston Texans at Bank of America Stadium(Charlotte, NC) 7:00 PM
    Sunday, August 12 No Practice  
    Monday, August 13 Practice, Panther Pals 6:00 PM
    Tuesday, August 14 Practice, Panther Pals, T-Shirt Tuesdays 6:00 PM
    Wednesday, August 15 Practice, Panther Pals, Team Breaks Camp 10:30 AM

    Preseason Schedule

    Week 1 (NFL Network)
    Houston Texans at Carolina Panthers
    Bank of America Stadium
    Saturday, August 11, 2012
    7 p.m. EDT

    Week 2 (NFL Network)
    Miami Dolphins at Carolina Panthers
    Bank of America Stadium
    Friday, August 17, 2012
    8 p.m. EDT

    Week 3 (NBC)
    Carolina Panthers at New York Jets
    MetLife Stadium
    Sunday, August 26, 2012
    8 p.m. EDT

    Week 4 (Network TBD)
    Carolina Panthers at Pittsburgh Steelers
    Heinz Field
    Thursday, August 30, 2012
    7 p.m. EDT

Carolina Panthers' Training Camp Info

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    The Carolina Panthers will hold their 18th annual preseason training camp at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina from July 27-August 15, 2012.

    The Panthers began the tradition of holding camp at Panthers' owner Jerry Richardson's alma mater when the team was founded in 1995, and they have held camp at the same location every year.

    Wofford boasts a sprawling 60,000 square-foot training facility that is one of the best in the nation among Division I-FCS schools.

    The Panthers will hold several fan-friendly activities surrounding the practices, including a "Back to Football" party on Saturday, July 28; "Play 60 Family Fun Day" on Sunday, July 29; "T-Shirt Tuesdays" on July 31, August 7 and August 14; and "Panther Pals" throughout camp.

    Panther Pals awards five lucky fans between the ages of six and 13 with a free t-shirt and the opportunity to watch the last 30 minutes of practice from inside the ropes, followed by one-on-one time with a player at the conclusion of practice. Hopefuls must register at the courtesy tent before practice.

     

    Directions to Camp (courtesy of Panthers.com)

    Fom I-85 North: Take I-85 North to exit 72 (I-585). At the end of the exit ramp, turn right toward Spartanburg. Cross over Business I-85. I-585 becomes Pine Street into Spartanburg. After crossing over Business I-85, turn right onto Twitty Street and into training camp at the second stoplight. Free parking is provided at the top of the hill on the right of Twitty Street. The practice fields are on the left, and the Panthers Experience is located between the practice fields and Gibbs Stadium.

    From I-85 South: Take I-85 South to exit 72 (I-585). At the end of the exit ramp, turn left toward Spartanburg. Cross over Business I-85. I-585 becomes Pine Street into Spartanburg. After crossing over Business I-85, turn right onto Twitty Street and into training camp at the second stoplight. Free parking is provided at the top of the hill on the right of Twitty Street. The practice fields are on the left, and the Panthers Experience is located between the practice fields and Gibbs Stadium.

    For more detailed directions or for further information about Spartanburg: Call the Spartanburg Convention and Visitors Bureau at 1-800-374-8326.

Carolina Panthers' Camp Roster

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    Carolina Panthers 90-Man Training Camp Roster (Updated 7/20/2012)
    Name Number Position Size Exp.
    Adams, Darvin 13 WR 6-2, 194 2
    Adams, Joe 15 WR 5-11, 181 R
    Arijotutu, Seyi 19 WR 6-3, 211 3
    Alexander, Frank 90 DE 6-4, 271 R
    Allen, Roger 66 G 6-3, 323 3
    Anderson, Derek 3 QB 6-6, 235 8
    Anderson, James 50 LB 6-2, 235 7
    Anyiam, Hubert 16 WR 6-0, 204 R
    Applewhite, Antwan 93 DE 6-3, 258 5
    Avila, Michael 17 WR 5-8, 168 R
    Barnidge, Gary 82 TE 6-5, 247 5
    Beason, Job 52 LB 6-0, 237 6
    Bell, Byron 77 T 6-5, 339 2
    Bersin, Brenton 5 WR 6-3, 210 R
    Blackwell, Will 71 G 6-3, 310 R
    Brockel, Richie 47 TE 6-1, 251 2
    Browning, Bryant 60 G 6-4, 312 1
    Bryant, Lamont 18 WR 6-5, 229 R
    Butler, Darius 27 CB 5-10, 190 4
    Byers, Jeff 62 C 6-4, 301 1
    Campbell, Bruce 73 T 6-6, 315 3
    Campbell, D.J. 26 S 6-0, 200 R
    Chandler, Nate 78 DT 6-4, 294 R
    Clausen, Jimmy 7 QB 6-2, 222 3
    Davis, Thomas 58 LB 6-1, 240 8
    Edwards, Armanti 4 WR 5-11, 182 3
    Edwards, Ron 96 DT 6-3, 315 12
    Fonley, Joe Jon 49 TE 6-6, 251 1
    Fua, Sione 94 DT 6-1, 310 2
    Gamble, Chris 20 CB 6-1, 200 9
    Gettis, David 12 WR 6-3, 216 3
    Godfrey, Charles 30 S 5-11, 205 5
    Green, Jared 9 WR 6-1, 188 R
    Gross, Jordan 69 T 6-4, 305 10
    Hangartner, Geoff 63 G 6-5, 297 8
    Hardy, Greg 76 DE 6-4, 277 3
    Harris, Nick 2 P 6-2, 218 12
    Harsock, Ben 84 TW 6-4, 270 9
    Hogan, Brandon 21 CB 5-10, 190 2
    Jansen, J.J. 44 LS 6-2, 256 5
    Johnson, Charles 95 DE 6-2, 275 6
    Kalil, Ryan 67 C 6-2, 295 6
    Kearse, Frank 99 DT 6-5, 325 2
    Keiser, Thomas 98 DE 6-4, 263 2
    Kuechly, Luke 59 LB 6-3, 243 R
    LaFell, Brandon 11 WR 6-2, 211 3
    Mare, Olindo 10 K 5-11, 192 16
    Martin, Sherrod 23 S 6-1, 198 4
    McClain, Terrell 97 DT 6-2, 291 2
    Medlock, Justin 6 K 5-11, 201 1
    Munnerlyn, Captain 41 CB 5-8, 186 4
    Nakamura, Haruki 43 S 5-10, 200 5
    Neblett, Andre 68 DT 6-0, 295 3
    Nelson, Jonathan 37 S 5-11, 195 1
    Newton, Cam 1 QB 6-5, 244 2
    Norman, Josh 24 CB 6-0, 190 R
    Nortman, Brad 8 P 6-2, 209 R
    Norwood, Eric 92 DE 6-1, 241 3
    Nwagbuo, Ogemdi 91 DT 6-4, 312 4
    Olsen, Greg 88 TE 6-5, 255 6
    Onatolu, Kenny 56 LB 6-2, 225 4
    Otah, Jeff 79 T 6-6, 330 5
    Phillips, Jason 53 LB 6-1, 242 4
    Pilares, Kealoha 81 WR 5-10, 201 2
    Pollak, Mike 74 G 6-3, 301 5
    Poole, Tauren 33 RB 5-10, 209 R
    Pugh, Jordan 29 S 5-11, 196 3
    Reynolds, Matt 70 T 6-4, 305 R
    Rosario, Nelson 80 TE 6-5, 235 R
    Rowells, Lyndon 38 RB 59, 207 R
    Senn, Jordan 57 LB 5-11, 224 5
    Silatolu, Amini 61 G 6-4, 314 R
    Smith, Armond 36 RB 5-9, 194 2
    Smith, Greg 85 TE 6-4, 245 1
    Smith, Reggie 31 S 6-1, 200 5
    Smith, Steve 89 WR 5-9, 185 12
    Stanford, R.J. 25 CB 5-10, 183 2
    Stewart, Jonathan 28 RB 5-10, 235 5
    Thomas, Josh 22 CB 5-11, 188 2
    Tolbert, Mike 35 FB 5-9, 243 5
    Tucker, Jyles 55 DE 6-3, 258 5
    Van Bergen, Ryan 72 DE 6-4, 290 R
    Vaughan, Josh 32 RB 6-0, 232 2
    Wallace, Rico 4 WR 6-3, 208 R
    Williams, DeAngelo 34 RB 5-9, 217 7
    Williams, Garry 65 T 6-3, 296 4
    Williams, Jason 54 LB 6-1, 244 4
    Williams, Zack 64 OL 6-1, 304 2
    Wilson, Kion 42 LB 6-0, 240 3
    Ziemba, Lee 75 T 6-6, 318 2

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    All information contained in this slide came from the Caroilna Panthers' website.

Carolina Panthers' 2012 Rookie Class

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    The most exciting thing that takes place in the NFL following the Super Bowl is the NFL draft.

    The draft offers new hope for teams looking to change their fortunes with a franchise quarterback while others simply hope to upgrade at key positions to put their team over the top.

    The most exciting thing about the NFL preseason and training camp is finding out how those rookie draft picks will perform when they face real live NFL competition.

    Every draft is full of surprising standouts and disappointing busts.

    Here is a look at what you can expect from the Panthers' rookie draft picks in 2012.

     

    Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College: 9th Pick (First Round)

    Kuechly may be the best linebacker in the history of college football.

    The 2011 Butkus and Bronko Nagurski awards winner is certainly the most prolific tackler the college game has ever seen with a record-setting career average of 14.0 tackles per game and the second-most tackles in college football history in only three seasons.

    Kuechly is also excellent at dropping back into coverage and reading the passing lanes.

    At his full potential, Kuechly is reminscient of the Chicago Bears' All-Pro linebacker Brian Urlacher in terms of size and speed, and he will partner with Jon Beason and James Anderson to give Carolina a top-five LB unit for the next several years.

     

    Amini Silatolu, G, Midwestern State: 40th Pick (Second Round)

    Silatolu was a surprise second-round draft pick, but Panthers' GM Marty Hurney and Coach Rivera love him for his physicality.

    Silatolu is a road-grader on the offensive line, but he played college football at a Division-II school because he did not qualify academically to play at Nevada like he originally planned.

    Absorbing Carolina's complex offensive playbook will be a challenge, and Silatolu will have to take cues from Ryan Kalil and Jordan Gross at the line of scrimmage this season.

    However, Silatolu could be a long-term starter and a potential Pro Bowler if he fulfills his promise and becomes a student of the game.

     

    Frank Alexander, DE, Oklahoma: 103rd Pick (Fourth Round)

    Carolina needs to improve its pass rush in 2012, and they selected the leading sacker in the Big 12 Conference to get themselves back on track.

    Alexander will compete with Greg Hardy for the starting defensive end position opposite Charles Johnson.

    Given Hardy's lack of production (4.0 sacks in 2011) and his bouts with immaturity the past two offseasons—he wrecked a motorcycle last season and recently tweeted pics of his Bentley speedometer going 100 m.p.h.—the position could be Alexander's to win.

     

    Joe Adams, WR, Arkansas: 104th Pick (Fourth Round)

    Though he hopes to eventually break through as the Panthers' starting slot receiver or the next Steve Smith, Joe Adams' best chance of contributing in his rookie season will be on special teams.

    Adams led the nation with four punt returns for touchdowns last season and he will take that role away from Armanti Edwards this season.

    Adams averaged 16.9 yards per return in college last season compared to Edwards' 5.5 yards per return average for Carolina.

     

    Josh Norman, CB, Coastal Carolina: 143rd Pick (Fifth Round)

    If Norman plays half as well as he talks trash, he will be a very good cornerback in the NFL.

    Norman's athleticism and arrogance are desirable traits in a top-notch cornerback, but he will have to compete with second-year player Brandon Hogan for the starting cornerback position opposite Chris Gamble.

    Norman has the tools to be a long-term starter in the NFL and he began auditioning for the role in offseason practices, but his preseason play will determine whether he or Hogan will take over Captain Munnerlyn's cornerback position in 2012.

     

    Brad Nortman, P, Wisconsin: 207th Pick (Sixth Round)

    After releasing long-time Panthers punter Jason Baker after the 2011 season, Carolina drafted a punter for the first time in team history.

    Wisconsin's Nortman was not even the highest rated punter left on the board, but he has good hang time, and that is important to coach Rivera as the Panthers seek to improve their NFL-worst special teams coverage units from last season.

     

    D.J. Campbell, S, California: 216th Pick (Seventh Round)

    Campbell is an athletic safety whose best shot at making the 53-man roster is on special teams.

    He was a late pick, though, and with the Panthers adding safeties Reggie Smith and Haruki Namamura to the roster, Campbell's best chance to stay with Carolina will be on the practice squad.

Carolina Panthers' 2012 Undrafted Rookie Free Agents

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    The Carolina Panthers have 20 rookies on their 90-man training camp roster, and only seven of the first-year players were selected in the 2012 NFL draft.

    That leaves a baker's dozen of undrafted rookie free agents vying for a roster spot.

    But do any of these guys have a chance to actually make the Panthers' final 53-man roster or even the seven-man practice squad?

     

    Hubert Anyiam, WR, Oklahoma State

    Anyiam played in the same wide receivers unit as Justin Blackmon in college, though he spent a lot of time on the sidelines with a couple of leg injuries in his junior and senior seasons.

    The Panthers need lots of wide receivers in camp to take reps as they add layers of complexity to their offense this offseason, and Anyiam is one of 14 WRs in the Panthers' camp.

     

    Michael Avila, WR, San Jose State

    Avila was an unproductive pass-catching receiver in college, totaling just 31 catches in 32 games played.

    Avila does have some kick-return skills, but he will not make it past the first cut.

     

    Brenton Bersin, WR, Wofford

    Bersin is a local favorite who grew up in Jerry Richardson's neighborhood, played high school football at Charlotte Latin and college ball at the Big Cat's alma mater.

    Though he has little to no chance of making the Panthers' final roster as essentially a walk-on player, he is a feel-good story with a chance to make the practice squad.

     

    Will Blackwell, G,  LSU

    Blackwell's most recent game was the BCS Championship game in which his LSU Tigers lost to Alabama for the national title.

    Blackwell was a second-team All-American and an All-SEC performer last season, and he moved his wedding date to attend the Panthers' first offseason minicamp after going undrafted.

    Blackwell is no stranger to big games, having last played in the BCS title matchup against Alabama in January.

    Carolina could use more depth on the line, and Blackwell is a hard-nosed player who can play both guard positions. I like his chances of sticking around in Charlotte.

     

    Lamont Bryant, WR, Morgan State

    Carolina ignored the wide receiver position in the 2012 NFL draft, but they went after height by selecting Lamont Bryant out of Morgan State.

    The two-time All-MEAC performer played tight end in college but he signed with the Panthers as a wide receiver.

    Bryant will make it deep into the cuts if the Panthers feel they can shop him to another team, but he will not make Carolina's final roster.

     

    Nate Chandler, DT, UCLA

    Nate Chandler did not get invited to the NFL combine or any senior all-star games, but he finds himself on the Panthers' roster heading into training camp.

    Chandler's chances of making the Panthers may have increased since backup DT Andre Neblett's announced four-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs.

    Carolina surprised many fans and prognosticators by not picking a defensive tackle in the draft, so Chandler may have had a shot before Neblett's faux pas.

     

    Jared Green, WR, Southern

    Jared Green's father is Darrell Green, a.k.a., the "Fastest Man in the NFL" circa 1980s.

    Green transferred to Southern from the University of Virginia after an unproductive junior season and had just 17 catches in his final collegiate season.

    However, he does possess "Green speed," and he may have a shot at making the practice squad, but it is doubtful he will take anyone's position at wide recevier.

     

    Princeton McCarty, RB, Idaho

    Carolina is simply too deep at running back to keep Princeton McCarty on the team.

    McCarty ran for 2,245 yards in four seasons as an Idaho Vandal, but he is just another body in camp auditioning for another team to sign him once he is cut.

     

    Tauren Poole, RB, Tennessee

    Poole was a 1,000-yard rusher in his junior season at Tennessee, but the Panthers are deep at the running back position with incumbents DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart still on board.

    Poole's best chance of making the Panthers' roster will come on special teams.

    However, Poole follows in the footsteps of a fellow undrafted Volunteers running back who has made a splash in the NFL: the Houston Texans' Arian Foster.

     

    Matt Reynolds, T, BYU

    Matt Reynolds is another undrafted offensive lineman who has a shot at making the Panthers' roster, especially if Jeff Otah has a difficult time staying healthy.

    Check out this helmet-less block to help BYU win the Armed Forces Bowl last season.

     

    Nelson Rosario, TE, UCLA

    Rosario has better hands than Gary Barnidge, and he may be the pass-catching tight end the Panthers need to complement Greg Olsen this season.

    Rosario is UCLA's fifth-leading all-time receiver in catches (146) and yards (2,362), and he led the Bruins with 64 catches for 1,161 yards last season.

    At 6'5", 235 pounds, Rosario is thin for an NFL tight end, but he could become a killer red-zone target for the Panthers.

     

    Lyndon Rowells, RB, Humboldt State

    Rowells looks like an FBS running back playing against lesser competition at Division-II Humboldt State.

    Like McCarty, Rowells is auditioning for other teams since he has a very slim chance at making the Panthers' roster.

     

    Ryan Van Bergen, DE, Michigan

    Van Bergen signed with the Panthers just minutes after going unselected in the 2012 NFL draft despite being expected to go in the sixth round.

    Carolina drafted DE Frank Alexander in the fourth round, and the Panthers are relatively deep at the position, so he will not make the team unless Greg Hardy continues to make mistakes and finds himself on another roster.

    Van Bergen is a possible practice squad player if the Panthers think he has a lot of potential.

     

    Rico Wallace, WR, Shenandoah

    Wallace was a star at Division III Shenandoah, but the jump in competition may be too much to overcome.

    Nevertheless, Wallace caught 189 passes for 3,287 yards and 28 touchdowns in four seasons, so he has proven hands.

    Wallace is a fun player to cheer for, but he will not be on Carolina's final roster, though he could become a practice-squad player.

Carolina Panthers' 2012 Free Agency and Trade Additions

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    The Carolina Panthers are a team that likes to build through the draft and develop homegrown talent.

    But the Panthers made at least a handful of moves through free agency and trades to improve Carolina's special teams, and they may have improved the offense and defense in the process.

     

    Bruce Campbell, T, via Oakland Raiders

    Campbell looks like an NFL lineman, but he appeared in only 14 games with zero starts in his first two NFL seasons at Oakland.

    Carolina traded backup running back Mike Goodson to Oakland in exchange for Campbell in the offseason in the hopes of developing him into a complete player.

    Campbell could be an insurance policy against the often-injured Jeff Otah and the aging Jordan Gross.

     

    Joe Jon Finley, TE, via Detroit Lions

    Finley has spent most of his career on the San Francisco 49ers' and Detroit Lions' practice squads.

    Finley signed with the Panthers in May, but he will have a tough time making the Panthers' 53-man roster.

    He is mainly a camp body and a potential practice-squad player.

     

    Nick Harris, P, via Jacksonville Jaguars

    Harris was brought in to provide competition for rookie punter Brad Nortman.

    The Panthers did not waste a sixth-round pick on a punter they do not intend to sign.

    Harris will punt for a different team in 2012.

     

    Haruki Nakamura, S, via Baltimore Ravens

    Nakamura signed with the Panthers to improve the special teams, but he will also have a shot at Sherrod Martin's starting free safety position.

    Nakamura studied his mentor Ed Reed for four seasons with the Ravens, and he is ready to prove himself as an NFL starter.

     

    Kenny Onatolu, LB, via Minnesota Vikings

    Onatolu is a special teams stud who was brought in to play a little linebacker and a lot of kickoff team and kick and punt coverage.

     

    Reggie Smith, S, via San Francisco 49ers

    Smith was a backup in San Francisco, and he will add depth to the Panthers' secondary this season.

     

    Mike Tolbert, FB, via San Diego Chargers

    Tolbert is a versatile fullback who catches passes like a receiver out of the backfield and runs like a tailback.

    He also plays excellent special teams.

    Tolbert will prove to be the Panthers' most important offseason acquisition.

     

    Jyles Tucker , DE, via San Diego Chargers

    Tucker had his best NFL season in 2008 when he started 12 games and had 5.5 sacks on Ron Rivera's San Diego Chargers defense.

    Tuckers's playing time and productivity have eroded over the past two seasons, but his familiarity with Rivera could give him a leg up on making the final cut.

Game-by-Game Preseason Analysis and Predictions

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    Preseason games are typically difficult to predict since the starters play so little, but their importance should not be minimized.

    The final outcome does not matter so much as it matter that these games are the barometer by which NFL hopefuls and bubble players are measured.

    Preseason games can determine whether a player makes the team or if he is cut, and the only thing that matters in the preseason is making the team.

     

    Preseason Schedule

    Week 1 (NFL Network)
    Houston Texans at Carolina Panthers
    Bank of America Stadium
    Saturday, August 11, 2012
    7:00 PM EDT

    Overview: Houston and Carolina boast the strongest backfields in the NFL, though Houston has a slight edge in the passing game.

    With starters playing the first quarter, the Texans and Panthers will each score early touchdowns before handing the reins over to the subs and players trying to make the team.

    Backup quarterbacks Derek Anderson and Houston's T.J. Yates will likely play at least half of the game.

    Prediction: Texans 28, Panthers 18

     

    Week 2 (NFL Network)
    Miami Dolphins at Carolina Panthers
    Bank of America Stadium
    Friday, August 17, 2012
    8:00 PM EDT

    Overview: Carolina simply has a better football team than Miami whether it is the preseason or the regular season.

    Miami's offense is going to struggle this season, and it won't be much prettier in the preseason.

    Expect to see a lot of Jimmy Clausen in Carolina's second preseason game as they look to shop him to the league and find out if he is worth keeping around.

    Prediction: Dolphins 16, Panthers 25

     

    Week 3 (NBC)
    Carolina Panthers at New York Jets
    MetLife Stadium
    Sunday, August 26, 2012
    8:00 PM EDT

    Overview: The third preseason game is the one in which the starters get the most playing time.

    This matchup is being played in primetime on Sunday night and it will surely be billed as Cam Newton versus Tim Tebow, though Tebow is expected to be the Jets' backup quarterback this season.

    Carolina's offense should have a chance to get into a groove, and the Steve Smith versus Darrelle Revis matchup may be the game's most intriguing.

    The Panthers' defense will be challenged to stop the running of Shonn Greene and Tim Tebow.

    Prediction: Panthers 31, Jets 24

     

    Week 4 (Network TBD)
    Carolina Panthers at Pittsburgh Steelers
    Heinz Field
    Thursday, August 30, 2012
    7:00 PM EDT

    Overview: Cam Newton and Ben Roethlisberger may each play one series or at least a set of downs, but the objective of the fourth and final NFL preseason game is to escape unscathed.

    The last few bubble players who stand out on special teams will help their chances of making the final cut when the 53-man roster is releasedd on September 1.

    Both teams are looking ahead to the regular season.

    Prediction: Panthers 17, Steelers 24

Predicting the Final 53-Man Roster

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    The Carolina Panthers are headed back to Wofford College for their 18th consecutive year of training camp in Spartanburg, South Carolina, since the team was founded in 1995.

    Cam Newton is returning for his sophomore season in Carolina, and Steve Smith is back for his 12th year with the Panthers, but there are position battles and questions that need to be answered all over the field.

    Will Brandon Hogan or Josh Norman win the starting cornerback position?

    Is Brandon LaFell a better receiver than David Gettis?

    Are linebackers Jon Beason and Thomas Davis both healthy?

    And are the Panthers any better on defense and special teams than they were in 2011?

    Answers to these questions, along with directions to training camp, preseason schedules and player analysis, are all right here.

    If you are a PSL owner or a diehard fan attending practices and preseason games, or if you are a casual observer who prefers to watch from his couch or favorite bar stool, let the Carolina Panthers' Complete 2012 NFL Preseason &Training Camp Guide be your road map and reference guide through the next month of Panthers' football.