Mike Glennon and Mike James lead Tampa's offence. Image courtesy of bleacherreport.com/Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse for Tampa Bay , news came out that Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin could be out for the rest of the season after sustaining a shoulder injury in last weekend’s 31-23 loss to the Falcons. Last year he led all rookies with 1,454 yards on the ground and 11 rushing touchdowns, so his loss will be keenly felt.
With Josh Freeman now a Viking, the Bucs are going with Mike Glennon at quarterback. The 73rd pick in this year’s draft has, not surprisingly, been up and down in his three starts, and his job will get even tougher without Martin in the backfield. Another rookie, Mike James , is likely to get the starting nod after rushing for 45 yards on 14 carries against the Falcons.
The Bucs will do well to make any impression on a Carolina defence which is amongst the stingiest in the NFL. The Panthers are ranked fourth against the run and fifth against the pass, which will make life tough for a Tampa team scoring an anaemic 14.5 points per game. If you think the Buccaneers will strike first, then look towards Vincent Jackson as first touchdown scorer. Glennon has targeted him 36 times in the past two games with the veteran catching 19 balls for 252 yards and two TDs.
Carolina sits 3-3 and has benefited from coming up against weak opposition the past fortnight. The Panthers cruised past both St Louis and Minnesota and Cam Newton has been on a tear in that period. He has gone 35 for 43 for 446 yards and two TDs in those victories, while also picking up a rushing touchdown and not throwing a single pick.
Newton has been spreading the load the past couple of weeks. Steve Smith and tight end Greg Olsen were his primary targets early in the season, but wideouts Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn Jr have been seeing a lot more ball in the past two weeks. The former No. 1 draft pick has run for four touchdowns in his four career starts against Tampa Bay.
The teams are 2-2 since Newton came to the Panthers, but the Bucs won both of last year’s contests. They came up victorious 16-10 in the season opener before getting away with a 27-21 overtime win in Charlotte.
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