WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

Notes, Quotes

The Sports Xchange

July 24, 2018 at 1:10 am.

–This is supposed to be the final training camp for linebacker Thomas Davis, who had pointed out that this is his last season. But heading to retirement might not be that simple.

Davis will begin his 14th season on the NFL’s suspended list for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Already, he has made some offseason hints that he might be willing to stay around beyond this season.

“It was definitely something that was unintentional,” Davis said of the violation. “It’s tough for me to be potentially in the last season of my NFL career to be faced with a four-game suspension. … I’m going to training camp and I’m going to have a good camp.”

Whether that’s an internal motivational factor or comes with the idea that he might avoid some wear and tear as he sits out a month of the season, is unclear.

In the meantime, there’s a solid track record on the field for Davis.

“We know what Thomas can do,” head coach Ron Rivera said.

–Linebacker Luke Kuechly figures he should be ready for action in training camp after being forced to sit out team activities during minicamp following shoulder surgery.

“Hopefully, once training camp comes around I’ll be full-go,” Kuechly said. “It feels good and everything should be on track.”

Kuechly is also adjusting to a new linebackers coach with Steve Russ on board. He said Russ brought good energy during the spring and he expects the relationships between Russ and the linebackers to continue to grow.

–Gaging quarterback Cam Newton’s mood has often been a fascination for team observers. Just how much he embraces changes with the offense and with the personnel around him might dictate how much he’s willing to discuss team matters during the preseason.

He was mum during minicamp, so his thoughts couldn’t be chronicled. He went through a rough 2017 preseason as he was coming off shoulder surgery and then there was ongoing speculation about his readiness at the start of the season.

Head coach Ron Rivera gave Newton a positive review heading toward training camp.

“You’ve seen the growth and development, the different set of eyes and voices have been good for him,” Rivera said.

TOP THREE GOALS IN CAMP

–Gain comfort in new offense. Norv Turner is on board as the offensive coordinator and there’s vast experience for him to draw on. But it will be vital for the Panthers to make sure his ideology is a good fit with quarterback Cam Newton and some of the versatile parts available to the offense. This marks a fresh start for the offense, so its development is a big part of the preseason.

–Unleash young receivers. The Panthers have a lot invested in some of their youthful receivers and the amount of patience the coaching staff has in seeing how much they’ll be able to contribute will be notable. Second-year pro Chris Samuel needs to avoid the injury bug, while first-round draft pick DJ Moore, under no sense of urgency because he’s so new, could be seen as a solution right away. The Panthers are counting on these guys boosting the receiving corps because the group became particularly vanilla in many ways by the end of last season.

–Short-term linebacker fix. The Panthers will play the first four games without veteran linebacker Thomas Davis, who was suspended by the NFL for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Davis has been such a presence for the team that making sure his absence isn’t devastating could be a quite a chore. This might be his final season anyway, so it might also provide a glimpse into the long-term remedy for his spot.

TOP SUMMER BATTLE

–Left guard. It might be a matter of Amini Silatolu against all comers. There are options here if Silatolu doesn’t pan out, with second-year pro Taylor Moton the most intriguing. It’s versatility that tends to make the group of contenders so diverse. There could be a push to find a way to put Tyler Larsen in the lineup because he has performed well as a starter in 15 games at center the past couple of years when Ryan Kalil has been out.

 

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