Check complacency at the door
When the Panthers faced the Bucs in a Thursday night game five weeks ago, there were “Fire Schiano” billboards popping up around Tampa. But the embattled Bucs coach has righted the ship a bit. The Bucs nearly beat Seattle the week after losing to the Panthers, and have reeled off three victories since starting the season 0-8. The Panthers came out flat last week at Miami before waking up in the second half. Several players said they underestimated the Dolphins. They can’t afford another slow start against a Tampa Bay team playing with increased confidence.
Make Glennon move his feet
Former N.C. State standout Mike Glennon has been one of the league’s most efficient quarterbacks the past month and a half. The 6-foot-6, 225-pounder has thrown one interception over the last six games and is coming off a strong showing against Detroit. The Panthers did a good job pressuring Glennon in the first meeting, sacking him four times as the Bucs attempted 51 passes. Playing without injured defensive end Charles Johnson for the second consecutive week, the Panthers need Mario Addison to be a force off the edge.
Re-discover the running game
The return of Jonathan Stewart has taken the load off running back DeAngelo Williams, but it also took Williams out of his rhythm. But with Williams expected to be sidelined with a leg injury, that likely won’t be an issue vs. Tampa Bay. Stewart and fullback Mike Tolbert will try to kick-start a ground game that’s been led by quarterback Cam Newton the past two games. The running backs have combined for less than 100 yards in each of the past three games, and will try to get healthy against a Bucs’ defense ranked ninth vs. the run (101.6 yards a game).