How Cam Newton absorbs Norv Turner's offense key to Panthers camp

All eyes will be on how new Panthers offensive coordinator Norv Turner works with Pro Bowl QB Cam Newton this season. Chuck Burton/AP Photo

The Carolina Panthers open training camp on July 25 at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Here's a closer look at the Panthers' camp:

Top storyline: The implementation of Norv Turner's offense. Turner replaced Mike Shula as offensive coordinator to help take quarterback Cam Newton's game to another level. Surrounding Newton with more weapons is a part of that. Early signs Newton is adapting to this scheme that has more high-percentage passes have been good. But until Newton faces a full pass rush in pads, as he will in camp, it's still a guessing game as to how the 2015 MVP will perform.

QB depth chart: Newton, Garrett Gilbert, Taylor Heinicke. This will be the first time Newton hasn't had veteran Derek Anderson as his backup since he entered the league in 2011. Gilbert hasn't taken a snap in a regular-season game, and Heinicke has played in one game. So the focus beyond whether Newton has adapted to Turner's system will be whether one of these young quarterbacks can play at a level that will give Carolina a chance to win should something happen to Newton.

Bubble watch: Wide receiver Damiere Byrd showed flashes before injuries ended his 2017 season. But with a rebuilt core of receivers featuring Devin Funchess, Torrey Smith, Jarius Wright, D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel, it will be tough for Byrd to crack the five-man rotation unless Samuel isn't fully recovered from a leg injury. Linebacker Ben Jacobs also could be on the bubble as a backup and special-teams standout after the Panthers drafted linebackers Jermaine Carter (fifth round) and Andre Smith (seventh round). Seventh-round pick Kendrick Norton could make veteran Kyle Love expendable at defensive tackle.

This rookie could start: Cornerback Donte Jackson. The rookie out of LSU was drafted in the second round to bring a swagger to the secondary that hasn't been there since Josh Norman in 2015. Jackson will be given every chance to start ahead of free agent Ross Cockrell and veterans such as Captain Munnerlyn. Jackson worked with the first team a lot during offseason workouts. If he performs well enough in the preseason to start opposite James Bradberry, it will go a long way toward making this a top-10, maybe top-5, defense.

Kaepernick backs up Cam? It probably won't happen, but if Gilbert and/or Heinicke don't show early in the preseason that they are capable backups for Newton, then perhaps the Panthers would turn to former San Francisco starter Colin Kaepernick? Perhaps new owner David Tepper might be more open to Kaepernick than former owner Jerry Richardson, despite the controversy that has followed the quarterback since he first knelt during the national anthem in 2016. Newton said a year ago that Kaepernick deserves to be on a roster. So if you're looking for veteran help, there's probably nobody better -- or more available -- than Kaepernick, whose game is similar to Newton's.

Safety net: The Panthers are hoping free-agent signee Da'Norris Searcy can fill the free safety role opposite Mike Adams. Coach Ron Rivera said during offseason workouts, "it's like two heads who have been together for a while." But Searcy's career declined last season to the point he was replaced as the starter at Tennessee. Adams is 37. If one of these two gets injured or underperforms, there is a lot of inexperience behind them.

For daily updates at camp, check out the Carolina Panthers clubhouse page.