By Tom Krasniqi
His touchdown celebration is one that every NFL fan is aware of. So are the Buccaneers. He pretends to open his shirt ala Clark Kent transforming into Superman. The Bucs have seen that pose before. Maybe too much.
Last season, Panthers QB Cam Newton scored 6 touchdowns in two games against the Bus. That Superman pose was on display. The Bucs defense doesn’t want to see it on Sunday during the season opener at Raymond James Stadium.
The Panthers took both meetings last season— outscoring the Bucs by a combined score of 58-19. Newton was right in the middle of it—frustrating the Bucs defense not only with his arm, but with his legs too. He threw 4 touchdowns and rushed for two more scores last season against Tampa Bay in two games.
“The worst game against them came with us being at home,” Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. Last year in front of a nationally televised audience, the Panthers whipped the Bucs 31-13 on a Thursday night to drop the Bucs to 0-7 on the season. Newton had three touchdowns that night— 2 throwing and one rushing.
“That alone was more than just [hurting] the pride of the defense—getting beat like that at home,” McCoy stated. “We got to defend our home.”
True statement. Over the last 3 years, the Bucs have finished each year with a home record of 3-5. That means they’re 6-15 at home from 2011-2013.
Newton is the focal point of the Carolina attack. He may be wounded—ankle surgery in the offseason and a rib injury during the preseason—but he’s still dangerous and the Bucs know it. Especially when he gets outside of the pocket.
“He’s a hard guy to get down,” head coach Lovie Smith said after Wednesday’s practice. “Of course, he has great speed. It’s a challenge each week to play a guy like that.”
As for the Wednesday injury report for the Bucs— DE Da’Quan Bowers (abdomen), DE William Gholston (shoulder), WR Louis Murphy (back), CB Rashaan Melvin (ankle), and safety Bradley McDougald (knee) all did not practice. FB Jorvorskie Lane (hand) and RB Mike James (shoulder) were limited. CB Mike Jenkins (hamstring) was a full participant at practice.
For Carolina, there’s only one name on the injury report— Newton (ribs) did not practice on Wednesday. But don’t get too excited— he is expected to play on Sunday. And the Bucs defense is expecting his best.
News & notes:
- Lovie says offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford stopped by the facility on Tuesday but he has not been cleared medically to return. Lovie says “the offensive staff” will be calling plays this week until Tedford returns. Lovie says Tedford has not been ruled out for Sunday.
- Lovie continues to play coy when it comes to naming starters—or refusing to name them. As for the primary slot WR—Lovie says Robert Herron, Chris Owusu and Louis Murphy can all play the position.
- The new depth chart has Patrick Omameh listed as the starter at right guard. Lovie says you can put a lot of stock in the depth chart now. Translation? Omameh will likely start at RG on Sunday.
- As for Herron, he has changed his jersey number from 14 to 10.
- New Bucs guard Logan Mankins will be wearing #70.
- Bucs center Evan Dietrich-Smith on Panthers LB Luke Kuechly: “Dude’s fast. He’s got jets in his ass I guess.”
- In a conference call with the Tampa media, Kuechly says the Panthers plan on being physical with the Bucs big WRs and TEs.
- Lovie has been extremely impressed with RB Doug Martin: “I know he’s been a Pro Bowl back….yeah, he is our bellcow. For us to be successful, he needs to have a great year.”
- The Bucs re-signed safety Major Wright and they place RB Charles Sims (ankle surgery) on the IR/designated to return list. The earliest that Sims can return to the team is week 9.
- On Sunday, the Bucs open their season at home against the Carolina Panthers. Our coverage begins at 12pm with the Countdown to Kickoff show with Tom Krasniqi on 620wdae and 95.3FM. For more details on Bucs stories and practice sound, check out 620wdae.com and buccaneers.com.
- Keep it locked on 620am WDAE and 95.3FM as well as the Bucs blog at 620wdae.com for the best Bucs coverage.