Cam Newton followed an all-time season in 2015 with a pedestrian one in 2016, though his touchdown passes (19) weren't a career low and his interceptions (14) weren't a career high. He did, however, have the worst passer rating of his six-year career and rushed for a career-low 359 yards – all behind an injury-ravaged offensive line.
1. Can Newton get off to a fast start on the heels of a stalled spring?
This was a big offseason for the offense coming off a disappointing season, and its leader had to get up to speed for the next chapter from the sideline. Newton had shoulder surgery in March and didn't throw any passes throughout offseason workouts, but he was active as a spectator on the practice field as well as in the meeting room. Newton's arm and body will be fresh, and this is a guy who didn't really get to practice as a rookie until training camp because of a league labor dispute and still shined.
2. Are the guys around him ready to help jumpstart things?
That's not to say it will be easy for Newton to put his best foot forward out of the gates, but he doesn't have to do it alone. A retooled offensive line should help his cause right away, and an injection of speedy, versatile playmakers acquired early in the draft (Christian McCaffrey, Curtis Samuel) should make his job easier. A talented and healthy defense should help things as well, making it possible that Newton and Co. start strong heading into a Week 4 trip to the reigning champion Patriots.
3. How motivated is Newton to bounce back?
No one should ever doubt Newton’s will to compete and win. The man missed just one game after a harrowing automobile accident in 2014 and played through his shoulder injury last year. He hates losing and as such surely can't wait to work toward getting the Panthers back to their winning ways after their streak of three consecutive NFC South titles was stopped.
View photos of the quarterbacks on the roster entering training camp.