The 2011 Carolina Panthers were the most interesting 6-10 team I've ever seen.  There was '1' reason for that.  Rookie quarterback Cam Newton lived up to every morsel of hype placed upon him.  His 4,051 passing yards were the most ever by a rookie.  Newton also ran for 706 yards.

As good as Cam and the offense were in 2011, the defense was equally poor.  Last season, the Panthers were 24th against the pass and 25th against the rush.

Carolina head coach Ron Rivera's calling card is defense, so he understands better than most how important defense is.  Veteran linebackers Jon Beason and Thomas Davis are expected to be healthier in 2012.  Lineman Charles Johnson and Ron Edwards are going to have to play much better if the Panthers plan on being a real playoff contender.

Nate Wimberly is a sports reporter for WBTV in Charlotte.  He knows this team will go as the defense goes, but is excited to have a front row seat to year two of the 'Cam Newton experience.'