Stories unfolding during the three-day minicamp starting today may preview the season to come.
Matt and Jimmy
It only seems like it's been forever since Jake Delhomme was this team's quarterback.
Matt Moore is the starter for now, but you've got to figure rookie Jimmy Clausen, a second-round draft pick who was projected to be a Top 15 pick, is going to press him at some point.
Clausen definitely must adjust to the pro game after a three-year college career at Notre Dame, but it helps tremendously that he played in a pro-style offense that used virtually the same terminology as the Panthers.
Count on Moore to react calmly and professionally to the Panthers picking two new quarterbacks in the draft to compete with him, Clausen and sixth-rounder Tony Pike.
The new D-line
Julius Peppers is gone. So are two other starters on the team's 2009 starting defensive line.
Practice today unveils a new unit - likely holdover starter at end Tyler Brayton joined by end Everett Brown (or Charles Johnson), and tackles Tank Tyler and Louis Leonard.
It only stands to reason that Carolina's extraordinary and exuberant D-line coach, Brian Baker, will start barking at this bunch right away to try to get them ready for the tests ahead.
There's also an intriguing rookie prospect in sixth-round pick Greg Hardy of Mississippi, a defensive end with tons of talent who'll probably benefit from Baker's motivational and teaching skills.
The wideout makeover
Steve Smith is back, but there's no guarantee any other wide receiver who makes the regular season roster will be a returnee from last season.
Fourth-year man Dwayne Jarrett could have a hard time making this team unless he performs much better than in the past.
Three receivers were picked in the draft - Brandon LaFell and Armanti Edwards in the third round and David Gettis in the sixth.
It'll be interesting to see who the coaches trot out with the first unit day for the No. 2 receiver position, with Jarrett, LaFell and Kenny Moore the leading candidates.
The Fox factor
Coach John Fox meets with his new-look team for the first time as he heads into uncharted territory for him and the Panthers.
He and his assistant coaches are in the final year of their contracts, which could make for some awkward moments and surely will breed lots of speculation in the months ahead.
The youth movement seems to run a bit contrary to Fox's need to win big to position himself for a head-coaching job somewhere else or a contract extension here.
In the past, however, Fox has done his best work when facing the steepest odds.
The Panthers have a new assistant coach, Tyke Tolbert, who replaced the retired Richard Williamson as receivers coach.
This will be the first minicamp in team history without Williamson, who was on the original 1995 coaching staff.
Tolbert is much younger and formerly played wide receiver. Players at his position need to be ready for him to personally model how to run routes.
There's also a new special teams coach, with the former No. 2 man at that spot, Jeff Rodgers, taking over for the departed Danny Crossman, who's now in Detroit.
There figures to be a huge buzz surrounding Edwards, the former Appalachian State superstar who'll be one of the most-watched players in camp as he begins his switch from quarterback to receiver/kick returner.
Edwards also figures to be the new player most likely to have teammates, coaches and other observers marveling at his speed, moves and athleticism.
Strong safety Chris Harris was the quarterback of the secondary and a fumble-causing machine but was traded back to Chicago earlier this week, which led to Sherrod Martin's promotion to the starting lineup alongside Charles Godfrey.
The result is the Panthers will be less physical at the safety positions, but will be younger, faster and have more deep pass coverage ability. That's not a bad tradeoff considering Carolina also got promising linebacker/special teamer Jamar Williams in the swap, too.
The youth brigade
A year ago, the Panthers had 21 of 22 starters back from their 2008 team.
But when they take the field today, they'll have eight starting positions with new faces - three on the defensive line, the No. 2 wide receiver, fullback, right guard, weakside linebacker and safety.
With so many changes, it's difficult to know what to expect from this team.
If there's one player everyone wants to hear from most in regard to the Panthers' recent draft choices, it's Smith.
He was clearly frustrated and unhappy with the team's struggles in the passing game last season. He publicly aired his desire for the team to upgrade the receiver positions.
The passing game got a huge boost from the drafting of Clausen, Pike, and the three receivers - LaFell, Edwards and Gettis.
It's hard to imagine that Smith won't be thrilled. But figuring out what he's going to say - or how he's going to say it - ahead of time is highly unlikely.
Sure to be noticed
Just a hunch here that fourth-round pick Eric Norwood, an outside linebacker and rush end, is going to flash at times in practice. He's known for his all-out effort and playmaking ability.
It's hard to imagine that Norwood, who played at South Carolina, won't quickly earn himself a significant role, even if only on special teams.