CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Panthers coach Ron Rivera has trouble containing his enthusiasm when talking about the potential of this year's team.
The Panthers won four for their final six games last season and though Rivera is quick to say "by no means have we arrived," he believes the players made enormous strides over the past four weeks of practice.
The Panthers wrapped up minicamp Thursday in front of a crowd of 5,500 inside their stadium and Rivera says the communication has never been better -- particularly on defense.
They'll need it to be.
The Panthers suffered through a variety of injuries last year and finished 28th in the league defensively. Rivera believes they're capable of big things if they can stay healthy, saying "we're way ahead of where we were" last August.