Strategy And Personnel

The Sports Xchange

November 29, 2018 at 2:10 am.


–WR Devin Funchess remains the team leader among receivers with 41 receptions despite missing the Seattle game with a back ailment. He wasn’t back to participating in practice by midweek in advance of the game at Tampa Bay.

–WR Damiere Byrd went out with an arm injury in the first half against Seattle. Two days later, he was placed on injured reserve. He had touchdown receptions this year and also had returned punts and kickoffs.

–CB Donte Jackson (quad) didn’t return to action after leaving with a leg injury in the Seattle game. He has done some work on the side at practice and it looks like it might not be until the weekend until his status for the Tampa Bay game is clarified.

–WR Curtis Samuel joined the midweek injury report and missed practice with what’s listed as a hamstring ailment.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: WR DJ Moore. He continues to show why he was a first-round draft pick, becoming a go-to weapon on the offense. With eight catches last week against Seattle, he set his season-high mark. In a two-game stretch, he has compiled 248 receiving yards, making it the most productive back-to-back stretch for a rookie receiver in franchise history.

GAME PLAN: The Panthers have to find more red-zone success because they’ve stalled too often after potential big momentum-turning plays. They’re not necessarily built for a power running attack, so that might limit some options. With quarterback Cam Newton a threat to run, it ought to give the Panthers enough possibilities to improve their touchdown rate.

The Panthers have tried to dial up their pass rush and that’s something that will be more important with the secondary dealing with more injuries. They probably can’t afford to blitz much because of coverage lapses on the back end, so that means getting it done with stunts and pushes from the front four.

–Panthers TE Greg Olsen vs. Buccaneers Ss Isaiah Johnson and Jordan Whitehead. Olsen doesn’t usually stay under wraps for long so coming off a two-catch, 11-yard outing against Seattle the Panthers are bound to want to get him involved. The Panthers tend to do better when they have Olsen as an option in the middle of the field. The Buccaneers have gone with youth at safety and this is an area the Panthers will try to exploit. Johnson has moved into the starting lineup since the teams met in early November. Whitehead excelled last week against the 49ers when the Buccaneers went to man-to-man coverage packages and he was called upon to keep track of the tight ends.

–Panthers CBs vs. Buccaneers WR Mike Evans. The Panthers are banged up in the secondary and had to make adjustments on the fly last week. They allowed too many receivers to find openings down the field and that’s something that Evans will try to take advantage of. If CB James Bradberry is healthy, he likely draws the assignment on Evans. Evans has posted 100 or more receiving yards in the past two games. If he can do it again, it will be the fourth time a Tampa Bay receiver has a three-game streak of 100 yards (and Evans is one of those to previously do it). Evans is the franchise leader with 37 touchdown catches.