Ball-hawk Josh Norman will be exciting to watch as he gets reps against NFL receivers for the first time. (Photo by Brian A. Westerholt/Getty Images)
Today in Charlotte the Carolina Panthers begin their three day mini-camp. This is different from the OTAs as the sessions here are mandatory, whereas the OTAs were voluntary. This doesn't really effect much given Carolina had 100% attendance at the OTAs, but it's noticeable nonetheless.
There will be two workouts today, followed by two tomorrow and wrapping up around noon on Thursday with the open fan session at Bank of America Stadium. The Thursday practice will be fascinating for fans as they will get to see the how the team is shaping up. Despite having an understanding about the basic team structure, there are still burning questions left to be answered.
The pairing of Beason and Kuechly
We know Sean McDermott will rotate the linebackers, but there will still be a primary when they take snaps this week. Obviously the position will get settled in Spartanburg, but this is a good way to get a sense of how the coaching staff are leaning. I expect we'll see Kuechly worked heavily at OLB, and going against Greg Olsen will be a fascinating test of his lauded athleticism.
More after the jump
Inserting Mike Tolbert into the offense
Fans know what Mike Tolbert can bring to the table, but what remains to be seen is how Rob Chudzinski will use his new tool. Tolbert can do a little of everything, but we should see what his primary focus will be in 2012; will he be mostly a lead blocker, short-yardage carrier, or receiver out of the backfield?
Defensive end rotation
Charles Johnson isn't going anywhere, but the position across from him is very much up for grabs. Greg Hardy had flashes in 2011, but lacked consistency, and the Panthers made a significant investment in the DE position when they decided to trade up in the draft to select Frank Alexander. Aside from the starting job, the battle for being the key backup will be fascinating too, with both Antwan Applewhite and Thomas Keiser showing a lot of skill in 2011.
Ron Rivera has openly stated that he ‘hopes' David Gettis can be the #3 receiver, but hope and reality don't always align. There is plenty of competition on the roster as Carolina tries to mold their receiving corps, and the development of Kealoha Pilares and Joe Adams as pass catchers will be fascinating to watch.
The rookie hailed as a 'steal' will get his chance to flash against NFL competition for the first time in front of fans, while Brandon Hogan will get his shot to finally start working with the team in a pre-season practice setting after missing last year's due to injury. The starting CB spot is up in the air, despite Ron Rivera giving Captain Munnerlyn a lot of reps during the OTAs. Cap is still a solid player, just not a solid starting CB and we should start to see the movement towards one of the younger players to start across from Chris Gamble.
Are there any other questions you have that this mini-camp might sort out? Are you planning to attend Thursday's practice? Sound off in the comments.