Carolina Panthers Prep for a Visit From Tampa Bay


0-1 vs 1-0.

Were the Carolina Panthers here last year at this time, too? Yes. And coming off a defeat from another NFC East opponent, too.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers however, are the team to start it’s season off on the right foot with a win over the Cleveland Browns. However, I wouldn’t put a lot of stock into a win over such a team. Then again for any team in the NFL, “a win-is-a-win,” no matter which team it’s against.

So this is the week which, as fans, we want to see our team redeem itself. The good news is, it’s only the second week of regular season, it’s a home game which sold out (make NOISE Panthers fans!), and it’s another opportunity for a team which left three touchdowns on the field, to dust itself off and play smart and aggressive.

The bad news — yes, there has to be bad news, even if it’s not that bad — is already in Week Two, Carolina must play a division opponent. This is a game in which win-loss records hold little merit. One team could be 6-2 while the other is 3-5, and the 3-5 team takes the win. These two teams have always played each other with fierce aggression. This year’s meetings should be no different.

Both teams are fielding young defenses. Both teams will also have young signal callers on offense. There are many similarities shared between both teams; the only major difference being in their respective records and their previous week’s opponents.

I do believe that in this game, we should see a lot more running plays from the DeAngelo Williams / Jonathan Stewart tandem, unlike in last week’s loss to New York, in which Stewart saw four carries the entire game — a game plan which Carolina scrapped within the first quarter, to experiment with wide receivers and quarterbacks.

Bad idea, but again, another pattern carrying over from last season’s opener and a loss.

The news on Friday, was that wide receiver Charly Martin was placed on injured reserve. Martin suffered a concussion in last Sunday’s game, and then in one practice late in the week, pulled a hamstring. That now leaves the Panthers with four wide receivers and one on the practice squad. With that roster spot becoming “free,” Carolina went ahead and re-signed free agent cornerback C.J. Wilson to the active roster.

So who do we see at receiver opposite Steve Smith this Sunday? Dwayne Jarrett? Brandon LaFell? Armanti Edwards? Perhaps David Gettis.

That’s who I’d really be interested in seeing play as the No. 2 receiver on Sunday, Gettis. Here’s why — and it’s via a process of elimination, too.

Dwayne Jarrett has yet to show me anything. I had hopes for the guy, and maybe he’ll do something this week, but I’d rather keep my last dime and starve.

Brandon LaFell is not ready to take on that role … yet. Do I think he will at some point? Quite honestly, I hope so. With time , he will improve, but right now I see him as nothing more than a solid No. 3 receiver going down the road in Carolina.

Armanti Edwards is “The Experiment.” I’m not knocking the guy, because he’s just that. For now. I do believe he has more upside to being something more, but it’s just going to take time for the guy to develop into a legitimate threat at this level. It can be done, however.

Which leaves us with Gettis, a serviceable, true wide receiver. The guy out of Baylor. I heard a lot of good stories about this guy coming from fans and alum of Baylor. I want to see how he can contribute against the Buccaneers, and how effective he can be as a pass-catcher and if he might be good enough to divert some attention from Steve Smith.

Right tackle Jeff Otah is still on the injured list, so he will most likely not see playing time this weekend, leaving Geoff Schwartz to fill in for him yet again … Will left tackle Jordan Gross be more effective at protecting Matt Moore’s blindside? I certainly hope so, given the gravity of the situation.

On defense, the defensive line looked really good for the first quarter. Against Tampa Bay’s offense, the D will still need to stay on it’s toes for four quarters, while keeping it’s head on a swivel for Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman, in the event he decides to use his own mobility as a weapon.

The linebackers looked about the best out of all positions a week ago, and this week they should look equally as good, while showing more improvement. I’m still gloating over Dan Connor’s play a week ago. The guy was seemingly “in” on every defensive play. Everytime the camera panned on a pile-up, there was Connor getting up somewhere out of the middle.

We also find Jon Beason a productive member, even at weakside linebacker. All the worry — even from myself — as to whether this changing of positions among Connor and Beason would be a good idea, seems to be paying off thus-far. besides that, Beason is a football player. The man is smart and I just knew going in, he would be able to adapt to his new environment accordingly.

Finally, the defensive secondary … well, it looked pretty bad last week. I saw the game (for once), and didn’t like what I saw here. I’m not sure where cornerbacks Chris Gamble and Richard Marshall were. I know they were there, though I rarely saw their faces on the TV screen. I did see a lot of the nickel-corner, Captain Munnerlyn. He was in almost every other pan-out when the Giants decided to pass. The guy didn’t do anything flashy, but he did defense a few passes at least. The guy got his hand in there, anyway.

So in summary, this team has the potential to win more than a few games this season. It’s a matter of getting everyone — coaches too — collectively on the same page and executing plays with precision.

Hopefully it starts against Tampa Bay.

Carolina 17, Tampa Bay 10

Follow Cat Crave on Twitter @THECatCrave.