2006 season recap
Mid-season swoon: Picked by many to contend for the NFC title, the Panthers suffered an extremely uneven season in 2006. They alternated between two- and four-game winning and losing streaks all season before finishing at 8-8 with an offense that ranked 24th in the league.
Key camp questions
Can quarterback Jake Delhomme get better at age 32?
Delhomme earned many accolades for leading the Panthers within a late Adam Vinatieri field goal of sending Super Bowl XVIII to overtime in his first season with the Panthers, but he hasn't become an elite quarterback in the three seasons since. His passer rating is consistently in the 80s, he completes right around 60 percent of his passes, and he has thrown 70 touchdowns to 42 interceptions, but the Panthers have gone 7-9, 11-5 and 8-8 in those three seasons. With David Carr now behind him, Delhomme needs to produce.
Can running backs DeShaun Foster and DeAngelo Williams stay healthy?
Foster and Williams both have been bothered by injuries in the past. Foster missed two games last season and was limited to fewer than 10 carries in three others, and Williams missed three games of his rookie season. The Panthers need the tandem to stay healthy and help ease the burden on Delhomme and the passing game.
Can new offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson revitalize the Panthers' attack?
With the Panthers defense still among the league's best -- eighth in the league last year -- it is up to Davidson to get the offense to that same level. With two good running backs, a star receiver in Steve Smith and a solid roster of complementary receivers, Davidson would seem to have the weapons. But he had decent weapons as coordinator in Cleveland, too, and the Browns' offense struggled nonethless.
Key position battle
Dwayne Jarrett vs. Keary Colbert vs. Drew Carter: Jarrett was the 45th overall pick in the draft after an uninspiring performance at his pro day workout, but he has the talent to earn the starting spot opposite Steve Smith. Colbert, a second-round pick in 2004, hasn't done much since a promising rookie season and needs to show he has what it takes to last in the NFL. Carter showed flashes last season and has more speed than the other two, but he might not be an every-down player.
Player on the spot
RB DeAngelo Williams: Williams has the talent to put up big numbers, and with a new zone-blocking scheme being implemented that suits his cutback running style, this could be a huge season for the second-year rusher. He showed signs of his ability last year before having a chunk of his season derailed by injury.
WR Steve Smith: Smith's injury issues and inconsistent numbers last season seem to have hurt his value in some drafts, but we still have him listed as the top wide receiver on our list. An explosive athlete with MVP potential, Smith is well worth a second- to third-round selection across the board.