Just the other day, the Bucs sent out a letter that if you've been a season-ticket holder going back to only 2007 — just seven years ago and the last time the team truly mattered -- you could bring two friends to Sunday's season opener for free.
Can you imagine the Panthers every being able to tell PSL owners since 2007 they could bring 2 friends to the game for free? Just, wow.
DE Da'Quan Bowers was back at practice Thursday after being sidelined since the preseason opener with an abdominal injury, but coach Lovie Smith said it's too much to expect him to play in Sunday's regular-season opener against Carolina.
the Bucs will have limited depth on the line Sunday, with little-used Scott Solomon and Steven Means the only healthy backups at end.
It seems the Panthers biggest question marks on the team, Bell and Chandler, have less of a challenge this week than first thought.
“It has been a collaborative effort,” Embree said. “We will continue to work like we have been, and at the end of the day, it will be Marcus sending the plays in. Whether it’s (offensive line coach) George Warhop or (running backs coach) Tim Spencer talking about the runs that they like, or (wide receivers coach) Drew (Hayes-Stoker) and myself talking about the different passing situations, we’ll get it all communicated. Marcus, who’s been on the radio from the first day communicating to the quarterback, will continue that process.”
I don't see this going well. Things happen far to fast for many Offensive Coordinators to get the plays in quickly by themselves, much less consulting a group. Too many cooks.....
Why the differing opinions? Well, probably because the source, namely Ron Rivera, is actually being honest (as he has always been) and isn't sure himself if Cam will play Sunday.
As for me, I am split. My heart says he plays, my head says he sits.
Yes, I know Cam was dancing in practice. I was there watching it first hand. He danced around pain free while waiving his arms and singing "Kings of the South". When I saw that, I was sure Newton would be playing on Sunday. Since then, and after talking with people in the know, I am not so sure.
Yes, I am aware of the keyword of the week "gamesmanship". I get it. This could all be a huge conspiracy to make Lovie Smith's Bucs watch more film. Preparing for Cam Newton and Derek Anderson is twice the amount of work. But this angle doesn't really match up with Ron Rivera's history. There have been numerous occasions over the past three years when we all assumed an injured player was playing, but ended up inactive on gameday. Then again, this matchup with Tampa Bay and Lovie Smith seems very personal given Rivera and Smith's past. Rivera could possibly be stepping up the game in his gamesmanship.
But, from the whispers I have heard from within the team, sitting Cam makes sense for the right reasons.
1. Cam is injured, but could still play if it was necessary. However, the worry is that Cam would play hesitantly. When a player like Cam plays with hesitation other injuries occurring are much more likely. Cam is one good hit to the ribs away from being completely unable to play for a few weeks.
2. Rivera plans to shut down the Bucs offense completely. Make no mistake, if this is personal between defensive minded head coaches Lovie Smith and Ron Rivera, making a point on the defensive side of the ball is how to take your best jab. A win is great. A win and a shutout all while proving your superior defensive coaching....that is pure gold.
3. The Panthers absolutely believe they can win this game with Derek Anderson. Anderson had the best camp and preseason of his career as a Panther. They have no doubt that he could come in, manage a run first attack and complete the play action passes. Although he is not as mobile as Cam, Derek does have plenty of legs to run some of the bootlegs we saw in preseason should the pass rush be too much for the Panthers OL to handle. Bottom line, the Panthers are confident they can win Sunday with Derek Anderson under center.
Sitting Cam has less to do with Cam not being able to play. He absolutely could play on Sunday. It has more to do with the confidence they have in the team as a whole an Cam not needing to play and allowing Cam to heal another week for the home opener.
So, here we are on Friday morning with Cam missing the last two practices (for the most part). If nothing changes and Cam's ribs do not feel considerably better today, he won't play. It isn't a smokescreen.