Camp setup: Panthers reload for bigger bang

© Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers reload for bigger bang

SPARTANBURG, S. C. -- The Carolina Panthers made the playoffs last season but that doesn't mean they were happy with how the season went.

They failed to win the NFC South, settling for a wild-card spot in the playoffs and a first-round loss to divisional rival New Orleans.

So head coach Ron Rivera has been retooling things since walking out of the Superdome. There's a new offensive coordinator with Norv Turner and a new defensive coordinator with Eric Washington (because Steve Wilks became the Arizona Cardinals head coach) and a renewed emphasis to shore up just about everything in between.

"See how we handle some things with the new coordinators," Rivera said. "There are a little bit different nuances that Norv has than what Mike (Shula) had. Those are the things they're going to have to understand."

The defense is familiar with Washington, so a smooth transition is anticipated.

"He's going to know his stuff and he's going to coach his butt off and we're going to be in a good spot," All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly said.

Yet training camp will be a proving ground in some ways, with new sets of eyes in charge of the offense and defense. Players report July 25 to Spartanburg, S.C., with camp opening with the first on-field session July 26.

This is Rivera's eighth season, so he's clearly comfortable in his role. But that doesn't mean there aren't hiccups along the way and he might need to be better in identifying them before trouble brews.

Quarterback Cam Newton, as far as we know, enters this training camp healthy. The Panthers hope his mindset is fresh.

He should be well aware that second-year running back Christian McCaffrey is a difference maker based on what was accomplished last season. Newton also will have the ability to help mold a relatively new crop of receivers, so that's something that the Panthers hope he embraces.

Even with addition of several likely key newcomers - running back C.J. Anderson and receiver Torrey Smith figure to top that list - some of the most important developments could have been keeping players. Veteran defensive end Julius Peppers has put off retirement to stay around, with his influence on the unit as a whole considered one of the big bonuses of that decision.

While the offseason moves and draft had an impact on the roster, there was seismic movement within the franchise as a whole.

Aside from the normal nuts and bolts of a training camp, this will mark the first session for the franchise without Jerry Richardson as the owner. David Tepper took over officially in early July.

So it will be worth noting how hands-on, if at all, Tepper is with the team and how much visibility he commands compared to the mostly reclusive Richardson.