After a successful 2013 season, the Carolina Panthers have high hopes for 2014. Yesterday morning, quarterback Cam Newton was asked several questions in a press conference about his new leadership role in Carolina. According to Miami Herald writer Steve Reed, Newton expressed his excitement about this upcoming season and the role he will play. Reed quoted Newton saying,
” I’m excited to take this challenge to be this team’s leader,” Newton said. “More has been given to me on my plate (and) be a leader of men.”
Newton also stated he would like to take complete ownership of the Panthers offense this season. After the team released it’s all-time leading wideout Steve Smith, Newton among other teammates have all accepted a larger leadership role. Miami Herald writer Steve Reed writes:
“Newton said he was “surprised” when he learned the Panthers had released Smith, one of the team’s most popular players.”
Newton has since claimed it’s healthy for the team to move on from the situation. Newly signed wideouts Jerricho Cotchery, Tiquan Underwood, and Jason Avant look to fill the void of Steve Smith. It’s uncertain what we can expect from Carolina’s wideouts in 2014 considering Smith wasn’t the only receiver to leave. Both Brandon Lafell and Ted Ginn Jr. have also signed elsewhere.
Cotchery is coming off a very impressive 2013 campaign in which he had 46 receptions for 602 yards and 10 touchdowns. Avant and Underwood are also solid playmakers. Avant, like Cotchery, is 31 years old and brings a veteran presence to a young Panthers squad. Underwood, who at 27, can stretch the field much like Ted Ginn Jr. did in 2013. GM Dave Gettleman and other front office officials will presumably take one or two more receivers in the upcoming NFL draft.
Veteran Panthers such as C Ryan Kalil, DE Greg Hardy, and TE Greg Olsen will also take on more of a leadership role. Kalil and Hardy both joined QB Cam Newton in the Pro Bowl last season. After going 12-4 in 2013, Carolina looks to be heading in the right direction in order to have a successful season in 2014.