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Carolina Panthers Roar Into NFL Training Camp

Rookie defensive end Kony Ealy signing autographs for fans after practice.
Carolina Panthers
via Twitter

The Carolina Panthers opened training camp for the 2014 NFL season this past weekend.  Head coach Ron Rivera says he feels -- even this early -- that his team is showing signs that it can live up to expectation set last season.  Carolina won the NFC South division title, but lost its first playoff game last January.

A couple of key concerns in camp will be quarterback Cam Newton's recovery from off-season foot surgery, and how Newton gels with a virtually untested receiving corps.  Rivera says how Newton throws the ball is the top priority.

"Right now, the cued runs are going to be limited very much so with him," says Rivera.  "

But, we're going to see him do the base fundamentals of his three-, five- and seven-step drop.  His timing is probably the most important thing as far as them running the routes and him releasing the ball.  That's probably the biggest thing he's got to get into focus."

Newton's rapport with his new wide receiving corps will be extremely important.  

The most notable absence is the team's career receiving leader Steve Smith who is now with the Baltimore Ravens.  Many of last season's other top pass catchers are also gone.  Despite that, tight end Greg Olsen says this team wants to show that last year's division crown was no fluke.

"Guys are eager to build off of last year so I think we're coming back with with a different sort of energy than we've had in the past where we're trying to get back on track," Olsen says.  "This year we're trying to pick up where we left off.  We feel like we have a bit of unfinished business from losing that game in the end in the playoffs."

The Panthers will host Buffalo in the team's first exhibition game August 8th.

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