Four Questions for Panthers Heading into OTA

The Carolina Panthers will hold the first of three voluntary Organized Team Activity (OTA) this week. This will be the team's first chance to have a majority of the players from last year start practicing with the offseason additions. These are the top four questions for the Carolina Panthers heading into their first OTA.

Is Cam Newton Fully Healed from 2014?

Even though he did throw for over 3,000 yards and win his first career playoff game, the 2014 season was a struggle for Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton. One of the reasons, and probably the primary reason, for the quarterback’s struggle came from his inability to stay healthy.

At this time last year, Newton was still rehabbing and trying to recover from ankle surgery he had in the offseason. He ended up missing all of the team’s offseason workouts and a majority of training camp but returned in time for Week 2 of the preseason.

The regained health didn’t last long though as he suffered a rib injury the next week that caused him to miss the first week of the regular season. However, even when he returned, he didn’t seem to be fully healthy until the latter part of the year.

The injuries unfortunately didn’t stop with the ribs and in December he suffered a broken back in a car accident. The last injury forced him to miss one game but he came back for the final two games of the regular season and the two playoff games.

 Now that he has had time to recover from the 2014 season, it will be interesting to see how well he moves on the practice field.

 

How will the reps break down at offensive tackle?

The front office has focused heavily on offensive tackle this offseason with three new additions. The team signed free agent Michael Oher to a two-year deal, claimed Jonathan Martin off of waivers and drafted Daryl Williams in the fourth round.

The team let Byron Bell walk this offseason so that leaves those three to compete with Mike Remmers, who finished the year starting at right tackle, and Nate Chandler who is returning from injury. Chandler is still recovering from knee surgery and won’t be participating much until training camp, according to ESPN’s David Newton.

That leaves four players left for two starting spots. The expectation would be that Oher will start at left tackle and Remmers would get the start at right tackle, since he finished the year as the starter. The key is going to be Williams and fans can get an idea of just how high the coaching staff is on the rookie based on where he is in the depth chart.

 

Who steps up at wide receiver?

It was announced last week that wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin would sit out this week’s OTAs due to a hamstring injury. Benjamin’s spot as the team’s number one wide receiver is safe however there is a logjam behind him that will need to be figured out before the start of the season.

The team has brought in Jarrett Boykin, Ted Ginn Jr., and second-round pick Devin Funchess to try to help out this offense and give Newton a few more pass-catchers. As Jones noted in his article, Funchess received first-team reps with Benjamin out and seems to be the favorite to claim that No. 2 wide receiver spot.

This position is very deep though and any of those players brought in this offseason is good enough to upgrade the spot.

 

How will Charles Tillman look?

The Panthers brought in veteran Charles Tillman to help solidify the secondary and give the team a chance to move Bene Benwikere inside to nickelback. There is certainly some risk with this move though as Tillman is 34 years old and has only played 2 games since November 2013.

Each of the past two years has been cut short due to an injury to his right tricep. The lack of playing time has to raise some question of how much he might have left in the tank. It is never easy to miss that much time and there is sure to be some rust that Tillman will need to knock off.

A strong OTA will be a great start for Tillman and start to remove some of those questions about how much he can contribute to this team in 2015.


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