The Carolina Panthers had their first organized team activities this past weekend, and although it was low-key, the event definitely produced some newsworthy material.
For one, Cam Newton participated in drills with the Auburn logo decorating his chinstrap. While Cam only played one season as a Tiger, that season was magical, as he led the Tigers to their third national championship in school history.
Newton went back to class this spring, which further exemplifies his loyalty to the school.
The move to wear the Auburn chinstrap may be influenced by the return of Gus Malzahn to the program, as Malzahn was Auburn's offensive coordinator during Newton's only season there.
As the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner prepares for his third season, he does so knowing that the pressure to win is intense. If Carolina fails to have a successful season, then Ron Rivera will have a very hard time keeping his job.
A coaching change would be a career-changing event for Newton, as Rivera is the only head coach Newton has played for since entering the NFL. The scenario is simple; win games and Rivera will be back. Lose games and he will be looking for another opportunity in 2014.
Newton's performance will be amongst the biggest factors in the Panthers' success or failure, as strong quarterback play would give them a chance to win every week no matter the situation.
Newton's loyalty to Auburn is one the Panthers would love to extrapolate in their favor, as the future looks bright for the young signal-caller.
While Newton appears poised to take another step forward, his lack of offensive weapons is troubling. One receiver the Panthers desperately need to step up is David Gettis.
After hauling in 37 receptions for 508 yards and three touchdowns during his rookie season, the Baylor product appeared to have a promising future.
Unfortunately, Gettis hasn't had the chance to build on his solid rookie season.
Gettis, who missed the entire 2011 season and most of the 2012 season due to injury, has the size and speed to develop into a quality receiving option. That being said, he needs to stay on the field in order to hone his craft.
At this point, Gettis is healthy and managed to draw a positive review from Rivera at the OTA.
Bobby Rosinski @BobbyRosinski
David Gettis on the field today for Panthers, Ron Rivera - "he's coming back...he's had a couple nice days, we need that competition"2013-5-23 16:49:38
One mildly positive review doesn't mean Gettis is going to break out this season, but it is nice to see him back on the field. With any luck, the 25-year-old wideout will be able to compete for a roster spot once training camp opens in July.
With the bulk of roster additions already made, the Panthers' secondary appears to be amongst the weakest in the league.
According to OurLads.com, Captain Munnerlyn and Josh Norman are currently slated to start at corner with Drayton Florence playing nickelback. Those aren't names that strike fear into opposing quarterbacks, especially the talented ones in the NFC South.
While adding talent at corner would be nice, it isn't going to happen at this point. The Panthers will have to win with the players they have, while praying to the football gods that defensive ends Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy are even more dominant this season.
At Carolina's OTA, the cornerbacks played made plays, according to Jonathan Jones of CharlotteObserver.com. In his piece, Jones says the following about the performances of Florence and Norman:
Veteran corner Drayton Florence made a nice over-the-shoulder interception on a heave from Cam Newton to Brandon LaFell. It wasn't really a live-action play since most everyone had already stopped before Newton chucked it, but it was still a nice grab.
Later, on a pass intended for Ted Ginn Jr. down the sideline, second-year CB Josh Norman made a spectacular diving interception, hitting the ground hard without pads and getting the wind knocked out of him.
How Norman and Florence perform at OTA's is less important, but it's always more assuring to hear positive reports rather than negative ones.