The Carolina Panthers prepare to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week in Bradenton, Fla. They would have normally prepared in Charlotte, where the team plays, but the Democratic National Convention is taking place in their stadium. In these two teams’ last 10 meetings, the Panthers have beaten the Bucs six times, with their closest victory being separated by a touchdown.
The Panthers have been adjusting to the Florida heat, but quarterback Cam Newton joked that someone forgot to tell him how hot it really is. Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said that practice has been good, and that the hot weather will help because it has been hot in Charlotte.
One of the main guys the Bucs will have to control is quarterback Cam Newton. He seemed very confident in his press conference, saying that the edge comes out everyday and he has no pressure, but holds himself to the highest expectations. Newton added nothing has changed from last season, and he strives for greatness. When asked about how to approach the Bucs, Newton said the key is execution. He spoke highly of the Bucs, saying the team has a great new coaching staff and great players. The Panthers must challenge the receivers and get to Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman. They need to put pressure on him before he can complete a pass. But the Bucs have lots of challenges in each of their positions.
Rivera said that Cam Newton is always looking to make a big play, but in time he is going to make better decisions. Newton is always going to be a competitor, and that is contagious throughout the team. He puts a lot of pressure on himself to win games and to do better.
Another weapon the Bucs should watch out for is wide receiver Steve Smith. His coach said that Smith does nothing easy, so when it is game time, it is nothing new. The Bucs should always keep a man close to him the entire game to try and beat Newton in the passing game.
When coach Rivera was asked how he is approaching the Bucs, he admitted that he wished the opening season game was against a team the Panthers are more familiar with. The plan is to study what the Bucs did in preseason and what their history is. They have to see where they came from and what coach Greg Schiano did at Rutgers. Rivera said another key to success against the Bucs is to react to whatever the team throws at them, and to then make changes accordingly.
Coach Rivera also spoke highly of the Bucs and coach Schiano. He expects the Bucs to be more aggressive and physical. Rivera feels the team has a solid nucleolus and made some great additions. He really liked the move of Ronde Barber to safety and drafting Mark Barron, and he feels the Bucs will arrive quickly.
The Buccaneers opener has officially been blacked out. Fourteen out of their last 16 home games have been blacked out.
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Kyra Hallett is a freelance writer and a Multimedia Sports Journalist. She has experience covering Tampa Bay sports in many outlets including Examiner.com. Her dream job would be to work with the athletes and their fans. You can view some of her work at KyraHallett.com or here at Examiner.com.