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Watch Live: NFL Preview: Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will begin the Lovie Smith era hosting the Carolina Panthers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Sunday.  The books are coming off a 4-12 season last year and have reworked the Tampa Bay roster in a major way adding 23 new players to the 53 man squad.  Tampa Bay looks to reestablish its itself as one of the premier defensive teams in the NFL

The defensive-minded Smith and coordinator Leslie Frazier have some solid pieces to work with, including tackle Gerald McCoy, linebacker Lavonte David, cornerback Alterraun Verner and safeties Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson.

Offensively the Buccaneers added first-round pick Mike Evans but the offense of line is largely  a work in progress, although the Bucs recently added Logan Mankins from the New England Patriots to add some veteran leadership.  Josh McCown was brought in from Chicago as a starter at quarterback for the Buc. Staying healthy will be the key for McCown and the Bucs.  If Doug Martin can return to form the count may not have much to do.

Carolina comes in with a question over whether or not Cam Newton will be  healthy.

“Cam is a fighter and a leader and there ain’t nothing that is going to hold that guy back,” left tackle Byron Bell said. “He looked good out there throwing the ball and calling plays and it looked like he hasn’t lost a step. So we as an offensive line have to keep him upright against Tampa Bay and we should be fine.”

Newton suffered broken ribs in a preseason game and is scheduled to start at this point. Greg Hardy is under a six-game suspension however he has appealed  a July 15 conviction on misdemeanor charges of assaulting a female and communicating threats and has a trial date set for Nov. 17 — during the team’s bye week.

 

About James Rhodes

James is an American born sports writer that covers all sports and has a passion for football at every level He began his journalism career then and has been published on numerous sports websites and publications

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