The Panthers' receiving corps is aware of its perceived standing in the league.
“The elephant in the room has already been stated,” Cam Newton said, via the Charlotte Observer. “Those guys have already accepted the challenge. You don’t have to go in there and tell those guys, ‘Hey, you’re projected the sorriest receiver [group] in the NFL.’ We already know. But with that, those guys already have that fire in their eyes. I would rather those guys be like that and for them to go out there and bust their tails like they’ve been doing. It’s kind of like a slap in–not only their face–but my face as well. The things that have been said, the reports, who cares? Because at the end of the day, we will be ready to play football, and Carolina Panthers football. Hard-nosed, and everybody’s going to have to do their job.”
While Steve Smith has long been held in high regard, Newton points out that there were questions about Carolina’s overall receiving corps heading into last season as well. Things went well enough for Newton to throw 24 touchdowns and the Panthers won the NFC South, so his confidence that everything will come together doesn’t come totally out of left field.
We're projecting Jerricho Cotchery and Kelvin Benjamin to start, with Tiquan Underwood playing the Ted Ginn role in the offense and Jason Avant manning the slot. That's not pretty, but if Benjamin can progress, then the team won't be that far behind where they were last season. Cotchery is a sleeper given the circumstances.