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Carolina Panthers 2014 Training Camp Preview

By John McMullen, NFL Editor

(SportsNetwork.com) -

REPORT DATE: July 24

SITE: Wofford College, Spartanburg, SC

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: If there is one team which seems destined to take a step back on paper in 2014, it's probably the Carolina Panthers, who finished 12-4 in 2013.

Cam Newton underwent left ankle surgery in March and wasn't ready for serious offseason work while receiver Steve Smith, perhaps the best player in franchise history, is now in Baltimore. Also, steady left tackle Jordan Gross called it a career and pass-rushing star Greg Hardy is dealing with some significant legal issues and could be facing a suspension.

The biggest issue seems to be at receiver, a group which is headlined by C- level free agent pickups Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant, along with rookie first-round pick Kelvin Benjamin. Meanwhile converted right tackle Byron Bell is penciled in to replace Gross.

KEY OFFENSIVE ACQUISITION: The Panthers needed help at wide receiver and jumped at the 6-foot-5 Benjamin at No. 28 overall. It remains to be seen if Benjamin has the suddenness to be anything more than an outside the numbers, ball-aware threat but either way the Florida State product filled a big need.

KEY DEFENSIVE ACQUISITION: Veteran safety Thomas Decoud, who made the Pro Bowl in Atlanta after the 2012 season, will be asked to help replace the departed Mike Mitchell.

Decoud has lost a step but he's a pretty instinctive safety who is well-versed in both phases and could be rejuvenated playing behind Carolina's stout front seven.

PRESEASON SCHEDULE (All Times Eastern):

Aug 8 - vs. Buffalo, 7:30 PM Aug 17 - vs. Kansas City, 8:00 PM Aug 22 - at New England, 7:30 PM Aug 28 - at Pittsburgh, 7:30 PM

07/17 13:24:07 ET

Other Stories

  • ACC: North Carolina vs. Miami

    Saturday at 12:25 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: San Diego vs. Miami

    Saturday at 1:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • SEC: Florida vs. Georgia

    Saturday at 3:30 pm on WRAL-TV

  • CFB: Notre Dame vs. Navy

    Saturday at 8:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: Carolina Panthers vs New Orleans Saints

    Tonight at 8:25 on 99.9 The Fan

  • ACC: Duke at Pittsburgh

    Saturday at 12:00 pm on 620am

  • ACC: NC State at Syracuse

    Saturday at 3:00 pm on WRAL-FM

  • Football Friday with Tom Suiter

    Tomorrow at 11:35 pm

Scoreboard
Local
Final
CHA 108
MIL 106
8:25pm Tonight
CAR
NOS
Final
KAN 2
SFG 3
Final
CHA 108
MIL 106
Final
IND 103
PHI 91
Final
TOR 109
ATL 102
Final
BOS 121
BRK 105
Final
MIA 107
WAS 95
Final
NYK 80
CHI 104
Final
MEM 105
MIN 101
Final
DEN 89
DET 79
Final
UTA 93
HOU 104
Final
SAC 77
GSW 95
Final
PHO 119
LAL 99
Final
POR 106
OKC 89
7:00pm Tonight
ORL
WAS
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
DET
 
8:00pm Tonight
CLE
NYK
 
8:30pm Tonight
DAL
UTA
 
10:30pm Tonight
LAC
OKC
 
7:30pm Tonight
LOU
FSU
7:30pm Tonight
GASO
TROY
Final
WAS 2
DET 4
Final
EDM 1
NAS 4
7:00pm Tonight
BUF
BOS
 
7:00pm Tonight
PIT
LOS
 
7:00pm Tonight
NJD
WIN
 
7:30pm Tonight
FLA
ARI
 
7:30pm Tonight
OTT
CHI
 
7:30pm Tonight
TAM
PHI
 
8:00pm Tonight
STL
ANA
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
SJS
 
9:00pm Tonight
COL
NYI
 
10:00pm Tonight
VAN
MON
 
8:25pm Tonight
CAR
NOS