Carolina Panthers

Bucs have plenty of respect for Panthers

CHARLOTTE -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers acknowledged that what the Carolina Panthers are doing offensively this year has been impressive, even if it's not that different than past years.

The Panthers still have a core belief to run the football, they're just doing so more efficiently under offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson than they did for former boss Dan Henning.

"It's hard to really see a whole lot of difference," Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden said of the Panthers offense. "You see some similarities to what they've been doing in the past. I'm sure he (Davidson) is throwing some wrinkles in there. They're real creative with their formations and you see more of the tight end involved as a pass receiver.

"But, there's a real commitment to running the football. There's a couple of real skilled backs that are handling the ball. And they have that guy, that number 89 (Steve Smith) out there. They are very committed to creatively get him the football. And he's awesome, he's a great player. Coach Davidson has done a great job and I am impressed with what I see."

Cornerback Ronde Barber echoed those sentiments, praising the running game, but said the Panthers passing game seems to be pared down from years past.

"The passing game does seem a lot simpler now and really focusing in my mind on getting the ball to DeShaun (Foster) and letting him use his talents in the running game."