Panthers hoping to avoid Super Bowl 50 hangover

nfl-campracticeAfter a near-perfect 2015 regular season and a disappointing performance in the Super Bowl, the defending NFC champion Carolina Panthers must guard against one key issue when sixth-year head coach Ron Rivera opens full training camp July 27 in Spartanburg.

Super Bowl hangover.

“We need to push even harder this year and remind each other you can’t assume anything,” Rivera said after minicamp. When training camp opens he will continue to remind 19 returning starters that it will be even harder to replicate their 15-1 record from 2015.

Quarterback Cam Newton, criticized so often and severely after the Super Bowl it was almost forgotten he was the NFL MVP, embraces Rivera’s warning about Super Bowl hangover.

In fact, he is intently focused on improving.

“I haven’t peaked, I haven’t climaxed as a player, and that’s what I need to get better at,” Newton said during minicamp last month.

“I always can find ways to take my game to the next level. Just getting everybody on the same page, as one of the captains, I take that very pridefully knowing that there are a lot of people looking at me to lead this team.”

Heading into his sixth season, Newton acknowledges that he must focus on improving accuracy and decision-making on the field.

In the personnel department, some were surprised when general manager Dave Gettleman rescinded the franchise designation from Josh Norman, allowing the feisty cornerback to sign a free-agent contract with the Washington Redskins ($75 million, five years, $36.5 million guaranteed; $15 million signing bonus).

That means the Panthers will open training camp with one corner spot manned by rookie James Bradberry (Round 2, No. 62), from little Samford College. At the other corner should be Bene’ Benwikere, who is coming off a broken leg.

In the first round of the draft, the Panthers took Louisiana Tech defensive tackle Vernon Butler (No. 30 overall), who should add depth and youth to the rotation.

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