1 of 3
Chuck Burton, Associated Press
Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton (1) throws a pass against the Washington Redskins during the second quarter of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Last season is a distant memory when it comes to the Carolina Panthers offense.

Seven weeks into the NFL season, the Panthers have already scored 18 offensive touchdowns, two more than they did all of last season under lame duck coach John Fox. Despite their 2-5 record, the Panthers are quickly becoming one of the most feared offenses in the league behind rookie quarterback Cam Newton and a new coaching staff that prefers a vertical passing game.

The biggest beneficiary has been 32-year-old wide receiver Steve Smith, who's closing in on 1,000 yards receiving at the midway point of the season. Smith has already surpassed last year's receiving total with 818 yards and remains on pace to break Jerry Rice's single-season record for receiving yards.

Carolina hosts Minnesota on Sunday.