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—The NFL Network popped up these 2011 season stats during the Panthers' preseason opener against the Texans that show just how much the addition of "The Protoype," QB Cam Newton, meant to the organization last year.
Total Yards: 6,237, No. 1 in team history.
Total First Downs: 345, No. 1 in team history.
Passing Yards: 4,051, No. 2
TDs: 48, No. 2
Rushing Yards: 2,408, No. 3
Points: 406, No. 3
What Newton brings to that team is irreplaceable, but they looked a little bit sluggish against one of the NFL's best defenses in Houston. A very good drive that should have resulted in a TD to Seyi Ajirotutu slipped through Carolina's hands with a dropped pass.
Newton looked like Newton—calm, big, in control and completely unable to become frazzled.
—It was great to see former Raiders WR Louis Murphy on the field. He is a dynamic threat who should fit perfectly into this offense once they get all cylinders firing. The old Raiders staff loved Murphy and how frustrated they would get with the lingering injury issues that plagued him and Chaz Schilens.
In watching him run routes, it's clear Murphy is back to form and poised for a breakout. I think he might be the guy to break out this year, which many were prognosticating to be Brandon LaFell.
—Luke Kuechly. Wow. The guy just has a nose for the ball. He came right in as the starting LB to complement Jon Beason, and apparently he is bringing the dominant tackling force we saw at Boston College to the NFL.
He was around every tackle. This was reminiscent of college, where he averaged nearly 16 a game; he always finds himself near where the ball ends up. That doesn't happen by accident. That is instinct, and Kuechly is special.