Optimism and excitement are wonderful things. In the scheme of things I've only been writing for this site for a few short years, but I can't remember the last time there was this much excitement surrounding the franchise since its inception. This is the effect Cam Newton has had on the organization, as well as renewed enthusiasm spawned by a no-nonsense head coach, and promising young players at a variety of positions.
It seems lately we routinely have fans say "I just can't wait until the season starts!", and that's great-- but I want to know what specifically you're excited about? Over the next months I'll be writing a look at each of the reasons you should be excited in 2012, but first I want to know what you're most looking forward to.
A poll, and a look at the contenders after the jump
Cam Newton's second year
Some may have trepidation over Newton's sophomore season, and the fear of a slump but for others can't wait to see how Cam has developed during the off-season. His footwork still needs improvement, as does his propensity to try and do too much with his arm, but overall there's a lot to be excited about.
Luke Kuechly in the NFL
We know Kuechly tore through college football, but will this directly translate to the NFL? The Panthers are hoping so, and many seem to think he will transition seamlessly with several analysts already predicting he'll be the defensive rookie of the year. It remains to be seen, but there's no doubt it will be exciting to watch.
Brandon LaFell 'breaking out'
Many think this is the year LaFell takes the next step and becomes the receiver he always showed he could be. When LaFell was injected into the starting lineup he had a fantastic showing and immediately made a big impact. Ron Rivera has already spoke LaFell's praises, and we'll see how he adapts to the bigger workload.
Mike Tolbert added to the offense
Darren Sproles proved last year what a versatile, 'do-everything' back can add to an offense, and now the Panthers have added Sproles' former teammate. Part fullback, part short yardage pack and part TE he'll add a drastic amount of versatility to the offense and let Chud add some wrinkles.
Putting the 'special' back in special teams
John Fox's approach never put an emphasis on the ST unit, but that has changed now. After taking one season to evaluate the talent the new Panthers coaching staff wasted no time in making big upgrades on special teams,