Norv Turner: Panthers offense just scratching the surface

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CHARLOTTE – With some time for self-scouting at the bye week, offensive coordinator Norv Turner looked at everything the Panthers have done through three games.

But it's what the Panthers aren't doing that stands out most to Turner.

"The most positive thing, and it's something that we set out in April to work on, is that we've only turned the ball over twice," Turner said.

Quarterback Cam Newton has been intercepted once, when a pass caromed off running back C.J. Anderson's hands and was picked by a Falcon in Week 2.

The only other turnover? Running back Christian McCaffrey's red zone fumble in the season opener against Dallas.

"It's not by chance," Turner said. "That's been a priority for our players. If we can continue to be real good in that area, we'll give ourselves a chance to win every week."

The Panthers offense ranks in the middle of the pack in both points (23.7) and yards (369.7) per game, and there are lot of aspects to be excited about – Newton's improved decision making and completion percentage paramount among them.

McCaffrey's 184-yard rushing day against the Bengals is another huge positive. Turner praised McCaffrey's individual effort while also noting the ways the entire offense is working to keep the defense off balance.

"What we've tried to do is camouflage and move some people around," Turner said. "On the first long run (against Cincinnati), there were two guys chasing Cam and DJ (Moore). We're trying to put together a scheme that keeps defenses from overloading and playing one guy."

You can see what Turner's talking about in the clip above.

And the collective performance of the offensive line, a group that has withstood a number of well-documented injuries, can't be ignored.

"It's pretty remarkable what the offensive line has done," Turner said. "Some of the things we've been careful with were based on the offensive line. But as we continue to grow in that area and feel good about those matchups, that will give us a chance to do some more things."

That sounds like a reference to the vertical passing game, which challenges an O-line to provide the necessary time in the pocket for a deep dropback.

Newton is still looking for his first completion on a pass that has traveled at least 20 yards through the air. He's attempted just five so far.

"The things that happen through a season, some of it has to do with who you are playing and how games are going," Turner said. "But we've got a lot of things that we haven't used yet. We're continuing to work on those things in practice so when the opportunity does present itself in games, we're able to execute."

Wide receiver Curtis Samuel's impending return and the continued development of Moore will help that cause.

"We're working to get DJ more involved and up to speed," Turner said. "And Curtis gives us another (weapon) – he is going to make plays for us."

The Panthers offense is off to a solid start, and that's what three games are – a start. There's a higher level to be reached; that's the plan at least.

"Good teams continue to improve every time they play," Turner said. "You shouldn't play your best game until December or, hopefully, January."

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