Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Say it with me now: Cam Newton is not going to score 14 rushing touchdowns this season.
Fortunately, the Panthers will not need him to with the addition of Mike Tolbert, and perhaps the proper utilization of their running backs in general at the goal line. (In other words, Jonathan Stewart fantasy owners everywhere implore Ron Rivera to use the guy more often.)
Really, though, with a weapon like Newton, who could blame them?
The Panthers hope "Superman" does not hit a sophomore slump, and there may be cause for concern. After blitzing the league with 400-plus passing yards in his first two games as a rookie, Newton averaged just 228 yards per game (YPG) on 59.4 percent passing after that, throwing for just 19 touchdowns to 14 interceptions.
That's not a particularly encouraging downslope as a passer.
Fortunately, he still has Steve Smith to throw to. Rivera and the Panthers hope Brandon LaFell is up to the task as Newton's No. 2 receiver. The Panthers also essentially traded Jeff Otah for Louis Murphy just before training camp, hoping one disappointment can deliver where another could not because of injuries.
Defensively, however, the Panthers look to get better by virtue of health. They get Jon Beason and Thomas Davis back. The addition of rookie Luke Kuechly makes that linebacker corps a dangerous one, but there was not much else done to improve that porous defense during the offseason.
Super Bowl Odds: Sex Panther at five percent potency