The Carolina Panthers should have a heck of a pass rush with ends Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy.

They'll need it since the back end of their defense is a major question heading into the season.

"We think we're going to have a good combination of guys" Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. "Plus our pass rush got better."

As of right now the starting corners are veteran Drayton Florence signed as a free agent and second-year player Josh Norman. Captain Munnerlyn who started last season is also pushing for time and could be the nickel corner.

The safeties are Mike Mitchell signed away from Oakland and Charles Godfrey who is now the free safety.

The Panthers need big improvement from Norman. The previous regime thought he could develop into a top-level corner and he did start 12 games as a rookie. He looks the part now.

Mitchell a former second-round pick of the Raiders has the physical tools and he comes with an attitude so this could be his chance to show what he can do after a slow start to his career.

Teams completed 66.8-percent of their passes against Carolina last season the worst percentage for any defense in the league.

With the addition of first-round pick Star Lotulelei at defensive tackle the Panthers have the making of a talented front. If the back end can take a little step forward which is almost a must in a division with Drew Brees and Matt Ryan the Panthers should improve defensively.

---In a bid to get quicker Hardy has dropped his weight from 300 to 275 although he was down to 273 after practice Monday. He said he lost the weight because he wants to feel more explosive off the edge. Hardy had 11 sacks last year to finish second on the team to Johnson who had 12 1/2. "I got up to 310 and played last year at 298" Hardy said. "I took out of my weightlifting regime and replaced it with running. I ran six miles a day." Hardy is also a good run defender at end and said that won't change with the drop in weight. In a contract year he is doing all the right things.