NFL training camps are always hotbeds of questions and intrigue, and the Carolina Panthers' summer activities are no exception to the rule. Here's what we've learned about the Panthers so far:
Cam Newton has taken on an expanded leadership role
Cam Newton's five-year, $103.8 million contract extension was an investment in Newton's unheralded smarts as a game manager and game-changing ability on the run. Star players tend to go one of two ways after a big payday -- towards complacency or towards determination which leads to progression. This year's training camp has given us a window into Newton's determination to lead the Panthers - and how much everyone else on the team looks at him to lead.
Carolina plans to use Shaq Thompson in a variety of ways
Carolina raised some eyebrows with their selection of linebacker Shaq Thompson with the 25th overall pick of the 2015 NFL Draft, both due to a lack of positional need and projections which had Thompson slipping into the second or third round. However, while Thompson is undersized at six-foot, 228 pounds, he has the speed and versatility to slot anywhere from a traditional linebacking role to hybrid safety -- provided Thompson progresses in standalone pass coverage.
He's been lining up with the linebackers for most of training camp, but we've also seen him set up as a pass rusher and at safety in some run-stopping packages. Expect him to line up all over the field during the regular season.