Will new ingredients equal success?

The Carolina Panthers' primary goal this offseason was to significantly upgrade a stagnant offense that clearly lacked weapons.

They did that, replacing inconsistent wide receivers Drew Carter and Keary Colbert with free-agent pickups Muhsin Muhammad and D.J. Hackett, who will battle for the No. 2 spot opposite superstar Steve Smith.

But the focus was really on the running game, where the Panthers selected Oregon running back Jonathan Stewart with the 13th overall pick and then traded up to get offensive tackle Jeff Otah with the 19th pick. Stewart is expected to split carries this season with another former first-round draft pick DeAngelo Williams, providing, of course, he recovers from a turf toe injury. Stewart has yet to practice with the team, but is expected to be full go when training camp begins July 25.

Otah will start right away at right tackle with veteran Jordan Gross moving back over to left tackle. The Panthers also added plenty of beef up front by signing three free-agent guards Keydrick Vincent, Milford Brown and Toniu Fonoti, who is back in shape and could wind up being the starter at right guard. All three go 330 pounds or more.

And the entire offense should be much better with Jake Delhomme back at the helm. He looks outstanding after undergoing offseason elbow surgery.

Whether or not the Panthers got better on defense is up for debate.

The team traded troubled defensive tackle Kris Jenkins to the New York Jets for two draft picks and the hope is that Damione Lewis and free-agent acquisition Darwin Walker can fill that void.

The Panthers got virtually no pressure on the quarterback last season and lost defensive end Mike Rucker to retirement. They added free-agent defensive end Tyler Brayton, who was miscast in Oakland, and he will start opposite Julius Peppers, who moves from left defensive end to right defensive end.

The Panthers got better and deeper at linebacker despite the departure of Dan Morgan.

Carolina's highest-paid free-agent pickup was Landon Johnson, who led the Cincinnati Bengals in tackles the last three seasons. But he's having trouble so far cracking a starting lineup that includes Thomas Davis, Jon Beason and Na'il Diggs. Carolina also added Dan Connor to the mix after he fell to them in the third round. Although they didn't really need another linebacker, the team had him so highly rated they felt like they couldn't pass.

Carolina's secondary looks strong.

Collectively, they have one of the better trio of corners in the league with Chris Gamble, Ken Lucas and up-and-comer Richard Marshall, who appears destined to be a star in the league. Strong safety Chris Harris was outstanding in his first season with the Panthers last year, registering a team-record eight forced fumbles after coming over from Chicago last August. At free safety, the Panthers will give rookie Charles Godfrey, a third-round pick from Iowa, a chance to start.

Carolina's return game remains an area of concern, but the Panthers plan to use Stewart on kickoff returns.

Rookie to watch: Free safety Charles Godfrey -- The Panthers' third-round draft pick out of Iowa has been quick to impress. The Panthers threw him in with the first team at free safety right away and he has coaches and teammates raving about him. Make no doubt it, the Panthers are keeping things simple, but Godfrey looks like he might be a find in the third round.

Sudden impact: Quarterback Jake Delhomme -- After missing 13 games last season with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery, Delhomme is back and looked extremely sharp and accurate during OTAs. Many, including head coach John Fox, feel like Delhomme's arm is stronger than ever. Reunited with Muhsin Muhammad and with D.J. Hackett on board to go along with Steve Smith, Delhomme has plenty of weapons at his disposal this year and could have a big season.

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