"Those guys have already accepted the challenge," Newton said Wednesday. "You don't have to go in there and tell those guys, 'Hey, you're projected the sorriest receivers in the NFL.' We already know."
After Cam called the criticism a "slap" in the face, a minor debate broke out here in the newsroom: Do the Panthers truly boast (boast?) the thinnest group of pass-catchers?
By our estimation, they do, but two challengers are pressing for that dishonor:
It begins and ends with the likely suspension hanging over Josh Gordon. If he's out for the year, the cupboard is bare. Behind the exciting but unproven Andrew Hawkins, a cavalcade of aging veterans -- Miles Austin, Nate Burleson and Anthony Armstrong -- would struggle to make most rosters in 2014. If Gordon receives a lesser ban, though, we'll see this group through new eyes.
Kansas City baffled us when they ignored the wideout position in the draft. In a risky show of faith in the existing depth chart, the Chiefs are rolling into the season with Donnie Avery and Junior Hemingway behind a No. 1 in Dwayne Bowe who accounted for just 673 yards last season and turns 30 in September.
During an era when the passing game is coursing into new frontiers, these three teams will be challenged to keep up in 2014.
Here are eight more takeaways from Wednesday's OTAs and mandatory minicamps:
- Cardinals coach Bruce Arians raised eyebrows Tuesday when he told reporters that young Justin Bethel has the potential to someday become Arizona's best cornerback, per the team's official website. That's a tall order with Patrick Peterson on the payroll, but there's no arguing Bethel's athleticism. Pro Football Focus graded the third-year defender as the NFL's finest special teamer in 2013.
- Terrelle Pryor is no lock to make the Seahawks, but Seattle is seeing growth out of the athletic freak they acquired from the Raiders for a seventh-round pick. "I heard the Seahawks believe he's made as much progress as anyone over the past month," longtime Seahawks scribe Danny O'Neill said Tuesday on ESPN Seattle. "In fact, they feel there's been a breakthrough of sorts for him."
- After Mike Pettine told reporters that Josh Gordon doesn't always hustle as much as he should in practice, the Browns coach told NFL Media's Aditi Kinkhabwala that his comments were "overblown." Not overblown: The challenge facing Johnny Manziel if the All-Pro wideout is banished into the wilderness.