Rookies and veterans report Tuesday for the Carolina Panthers, who hope a few key changes on the roster can lead to a more successful third year for head coach Matt Rhule.
Rhule, who has won five games each of his first two seasons, might be feeling some heat, as evidenced by his decision to turn to another option at quarterback, newly traded for Baker Mayfield. Fortunately, Mayfield provides upside for an organization desperate for improvement.
Training camp location: Spartanburg, SC
Rookie report date: July 26
Veteran report date: July 26
Key acquisitions: QB Baker Mayfield, S Xavier Woods, RB D’Onta Foreman, OL Austin Corbett, OL Bradley Bozeman
Key losses: QB Cam Newton, CB Stephon Gilmore, DT DaQuan Jones, LB Haason Reddick
By nearly every measure, Mayfield has outperformed previous starter Sam Darnold in the NFL to date, so looking to him to upgrade the offense seems a safe bet.
A bigger question for the Panthers might be how much help they can provide Mayfield.
D.J. Moore has been a steady performer on the outside, but he too often has had to go it alone as Christian McCaffrey has battled a variety of injuries.
D’Onta Foreman can be expected to help, and the offensive line was boosted in the draft and in free agency (no small thing). The health and durability of McCaffrey still looms large.
The defense, with impact players like Brian Burns, Shaq Thompson and Derrick Brown, is probably good enough to give the team a fighting chance. Now it’s the offense’s turn to improve.
–WEEK 1 IN FOCUS:
Browns at Panthers, 1 p.m. ET
Line: Browns -1 (FanDuel)
Total: 42.5 points
It’s perfect that Mayfield’s first game with the Panthers will be a game against his former team, the Cleveland Browns. Do you think Mayfield, who has a history of being a fiery guy, might be a little jacked for that one? Historically, the Panthers have the advantage in the series 4-2, though the Browns won most recently, 26-20 in December of 2018.
–WILD CARD OR BUST
Most over/under bets currently hover around seven wins and pay out +105 to +230 or so. If you believe Mayfield can turn around the Panthers’ fortunes in a make-or-break year for Rhule, why not jump on the team making the wild card as a prop bet instead? Last year’s wild card required just nine wins and if the Panthers can get to nine and sneak into the wild card, that pays out at +750 (MGM).
–Field Level Media