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Tampa Bay Buccaneers At Carolina Panthers: Preview

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers
@ Carolina Panthers

Sunday, Sep 19, 2010, 1:00 PM EDT
Bank of America Stadium

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will look to build on their opening week 17-14 victory over Cleveland as they head north to face their NFC South Division rival Carolina Panthers this Sunday.  It will be a battle of two teams that before the season began were expected to occupy the basement of the south Division.

The Bucs head to Carolina with a renewed sense of optimism surrounding the team coming off the win against Cleveland, a game that saw both sides of the ball contribute in big moments. The defense was dominant in the second half of that game, allowing only four first downs and no points to Jake Delhomme's Browns and will need to maintain that level of play if they plan to bottle up Carolina's dynamic running back duo.

In two games in 2009, the Panthers ran all over the Buccaneers' defense as DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart combined for 382 yards in two games despite Williams missing one of those games. Stewart has gone over 100 yards in each of his last 3 tilts with the Bucs and there is no doubt the Panthers will attempt to continue the trend Sunday by pounding the rock early and often.

Matt Moore has taken over the quarterbacking duties in Carolina with the departure of Jake Delhomme but suffered a concussion last week in the defeat to the Giants and his status at this time is in question. If Moore can't go, rookie  Jimmy Clausen out of Notre Dame will make his first start under center in the NFL. Clausen threw two passes late in the loss to the Giants, both incomplete.

Panthers head coach John Fox told the Charlotte Observer that he would not dumb down the play book if Clausen were forced to start Sunday.

"He's been with us, he understands what we're doing. I don't think we'd have to do that."
Josh Freeman will be facing a tough task with a Carolina defense, that despite the loss of standout end Julius Peppers, still forced Eli Manning into throwing three interceptions last week in New York. Freeman will need to find his receivers early and go through his progressions a bit quicker than he did last week vs the Browns if he hopes to take advantage of a young secondary.

Key Players to Watch

DeAngelo Williams

#34 / Running Back / Carolina Panthers



Apr 25, 1983


Jonathan Stewart

#28 / Running Back / Carolina Panthers



Mar 21, 1987


DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart have run all over the Buccaneers in recent history, amassing over 700 yards in the last three meetings with Tampa Bay. Gerald McCoy, Brian Price and the defensive line will have to make stopping these two the number one priority if they Bucs hope to have a chance to win this one. The Injury to Matt Moore and the possibility of rookie Jimmy Clausen starting only further makes the case for the Panthers to try and win this one on the ground.

Steve Smith

#89 / Wide Receiver / Carolina Panthers



May 12, 1979


Steve Smith is getting older and is also coming off an offseason arm injury suffered playing flag football of all things, but Smith is still a great receiver in this league and capable of beating any secondary deep. Smith may be the only wideout threat Carolina has at the moment, as no one else showed up last week in New York. The return of Aqib Talib this week should help to keep Smith in check.

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.