By Danny Cox
The Carolina Panthers are playing like a team possessed and are looking to continue forward as they aim for a playoff spot, an NFC South title, or even more.
It was a short week of practice as they face off with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday Night Football, and the Panthers are traveling to battle a team that is desperate for their first win. Luckily, Carolina will be heading to Florida with a team that is almost 100 percent healthy.
Two players will be sitting out this week, but that isn’t news that is totally unexpected.
Running back Jonathan Stewart has already said that he will make his season debut against the Atlanta Falcons on November 3. So, the Panthers aren’t going to be concerned with him sitting out another week as DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert carry the rushing load.
The other player that will be sitting out is defensive tackle Dwan Edwards, and that isn’t much of a surprise either. Edwards will miss his fifth straight game, but coach Ron Rivera says that he is making good progress.
A number of players are listed as probable this week, but they’ll be ready to play as needed.
Wide receivers Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell are slightly banged up with ankle and knee problems respectively, but they’ll be ready as targets for Cam Newton on Thursday night. Smith only practiced one day this week and that was in a limited capacity on Wednesday, but he will play. His ankle issue came about after having his foot stepped on during a light workout.
Speaking of targets, tight end Greg Olsen is dealing with a slight foot problem, but he practiced fully on both Tuesday and Wednesday so he will be ready to go.
Rookie Robert Lester is fully healthy for a second straight week, but Rivera is going to start Quintin Mikell at strong safety. It appears as if Rivera is impressed with the play of Mikell and wants to keep him going.
Cornerback Josh Thomas was limited at practice this week, but that won’t be the reason that he is passed over for the start against the Buccaneers. Melvin White has played well lately and Thomas has been struggling. That was evident last week after Thomas was beaten on deep plays twice against the Rams.
The Carolina Panthers are ready to win again and hope to do that against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and they’re healthy enough to do so.
- RB Jonathan Stewart – Right ankle
- DT Dwan Edwards – Hamstring
- LB Chase Blackburn – Foot
- S Colin Jones – Non-injury related
- WR Brandon LaFell – Knee
- S Robert Lester – Hamstring
- TE Greg Olsen – Foot
- WR Steve Smith – Ankle
- CB Josh Thomas – Illness
For more Carolina Panthers news and updates, visit Carolina Panthers Central.
Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. Danny is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.