By Tom Krasniqi
When you’re 0-6, you’ll take a win anyway you can get it. With the Giants getting their first win on Monday night, that leaves the Bucs and the Jaguars as they only winless teams in the NFL.
Just to be clear—you never want to be in the same category as the Jaguars in any category that involves futility. The road doesn’t get any easier from here.
Next up for the Bucs: A meeting with the streaking 3-3 Carolina Panthers at Raymond James Stadium on Thursday night in front of a national TV audience. Getting ready for Cam Newton and a stifling Panthers defense on a short week will be a monumental challenge.
“They’re playing very well, their front seven is dominant at times. Both [defensive] ends have four sacks. Two linebackers are really playing lights out, I think they’re separated by one tackle. They’re playing well,” Bucs head coach Greg Schiano said during his Tuesday press conference heard live on 620am WDAE.
The Panthers defense has been suffocating. They’re 5th in the NFL in passing defense and 4th in rushing defense. The front four—specifically defensive ends Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy-- is getting pressure on the quarterback. Middle linebacker Luke Kuechly is emerging as one of the top linebackers in the NFL.
The Bucs’ running game takes a hit with the shoulder injury to running back Doug Martin. The team is confident that rookie Mike James can pick up the slack in Martin’s absence.
“He’s been able to catch the ball well, very versatile, works extremely hard. We’re pleased with where he’s at,” Bucs offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said of James. “I think a combination between he and [running back] Brian Leonard is something that, moving forward, if [running back] Doug [Martin] is not available for us, those two guys will have to step up.”
The Bucs have to be able to establish some sort of running game. If they don’t, they run the risk of having rookie quarterback Mike Glennon being thrown to the wolves against a very good Carolina pass rush.
Defending Panthers quarterback Cam Newton will also be a challenge. Last week, Newton completed 15 of 17 passes in a win over the Rams. Newton looks confident in offensive coordinator Mike Shula’s offense and the Bucs are noticing.
“With as athletic as he is, as strong an arm as he has, he’s starting to understand the game more. That’s scary to have to deal with that for a long time,” Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said of Newton on Tuesday.
Carolina’s power running game has also been terrific. The Panthers are averaging 130 rushing yards per game which is 7th in the NFL. Newton, DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert are gashing opponents.
Prepping for a good team is tough enough when you’re 0-6. It makes it even tougher on a short week when you’re struggling mightily and dealing with key injuries. But that’s been a Bucs life so far this season.
News & Notes:
- Bucs practice report: RB Doug Martin (shoulder) did not practice.
- Limited practice: FS Dashon Goldson (knee), WR Chris Owusu (foot), FS Keith Tandy (concussion) and WR Mike Williams (hamstring).
- Full practice: CB Mike Adams (knee), DE Da’Quan Bowers (toe), TE Tom Crabtree (ankle), RG Davin Joseph (knee), DT Akeem Spence (wrist) and SS Mark Barron (hip).
- Injuries for the Panthers: DT Dwan Edwards (hamstring), CB Josh Thomas (illness) and S Colin Jones (not injury related) did not practice. WR Brandon LaFell (knee), TE Greg Olsen (foot) and LB Chase Blackburn (hamstring) and FS Robert Lester (hamstring) practiced fully.
- Bucs DT Gerald McCoy on Panthers QB Cam Newton: “I think he’s the best escape artist we got in this league.”
- Nobody wanted to talk about Josh Freeman’s debut on Monday night with the Vikings. Schiano says he didn’t watch the game. When McCoy was asked about Freeman’s performance, he replied: “Next question.”
- Bucs defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan caused some controversy last week when he jokingly invited fans to show up to One Buc Place to help put together a game plan. On Tuesday, Sheridan said two fans actually showed up on Monday morning but they weren’t granted access.
- The Bucs host the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night from Raymond James Stadium. You can catch the game on 620 WDAE and 95.3FM with our coverage beginning at 3pm with Steve Duemig.
- For the latest Bucs news, keep it locked all day long on 620 WDAE and 95.3FM, your home of the Bucs and the best Bucs coverage. Don’t forget to check out the Bucs blog at 620wdae.com for the latest news and audio clips.