Bucs QB Winston looks to take advantage of leaky Panthers' D
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will look to take advantage of what has suddenly become an uncharacteristically leaky Carolina Panthers defense on Monday night.
The Panthers, a top-10 ranked defense in each of the past four seasons, allowed Matt Ryan to throw for a franchise-record 503 yards and Julio Jones to rack up 300 yards receiving in last week's 48-33 loss to the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome.
It was a stunning loss for the defending NFC champions - one that defensive coordinator Sean McDemott admitted woke him up ''every hour on the hour'' looking for solutions.
''We can't have another day like that and expect to be a winning team,'' Panthers safety Kurt Coleman said.
If Winston wants to mimic Ryan this week, he knows he'll need to first take care of the football. He's turned over the ball nine times during the team's current three-game losing streak - two of those resulting in defensive touchdowns.
''We know that has been a problem early,'' Winston said. ''You move forward and you own it.''
This would seem an opportunity for Winston to get right against a defense that has struggled to get a consistent pass rush - starting defensive ends Kony Ealy and Charles Johnson have yet to register a sack - and that is young in the secondary without Josh Norman. But Winston said he isn't expecting the Panthers to just lay down, especially at home in front of a national audience.
''Atlanta has a great offense and we have to still know, in the back of our minds, that these are still the defending conference champions and NFC champions and they are definitely not a joke,'' Winston said.
The Panthers intercepted Winston six times and sacked him four times last season as a rookie. They're looking at this as a potential bounce back game.
''We know what we have to do,'' Coleman said.
Some things to watch in the Bucs-Panthers matchup:
GET IT OUT QUICK: The biggest difference between Derek Anderson and the concussed Cam Newton - aside from Newton's superior athletic ability - is how quickly the two Carolina quarterback get rid of the ball.
''Derek takes what he can get,'' coach Ron Rivera said. ''That is one thing that he does well. Unlike Cam, who is going to stand tall in there and maybe skip an opportunity and work something downfield, Derek is going to be quick to pull the trigger and make a quick decision. That may be one of the bigger things they contrast in.''
Then, Rivera jokingly added, ''And when we run the zone read stuff, Derek will probably hand it off.''
OLSEN A FACTOR: Expect tight end Greg Olsen to be a major factor if Anderson starts at quarterback. The Pro Bowl tight end recalled exactly how many catches he had in Anderson's two starts against the Buccaneers in 2014. ''Eighteen,'' he said with a knowing grin. Olsen also had 193 yards and a touchdown vs. the Bucs. In addition, Olsen caught a TD pass and a 2-point conversion toss from Anderson in last week's loss to Atlanta.
''He does everything for them,'' Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said. ''I mean he's part wideout, all-pro tight end, part running back going in the backfield and does all the protections for them. The guy's a coach on the field and a terrific player at the same time.''
NOWHERE TO RUN: With running back Doug Martin sidelined the past two weeks because of a hamstring injury, Tampa Bay's running game has ground to a halt. Charles Sims moved into the starting role, but he's better suited for a role as a change-of-pace back whose forte is catching passes and creating in open space. Sims is averaging 2.8 yards per attempt, with 116 yards on 41 carries. He was limited to 28 yards on 15 carries during last week's 27-7 loss to Denver, 1.9 yards per carry.
Backup Jacquizz Rodgers could be an alternative. He didn't join the Bucs until Sept. 13, but has averaged 5.3 yards with 69 yards on 13 attempts in a limited role. ''It's been difficult because we love Doug and Doug is a great asset to our team,'' Winston said.
STARTING A STREAK: Rivera said he was ''crushed'' when Carolina's streak of 35 straight 100-yard rushing games ended last Sunday against the Falcons. The Panthers are struggling with the running game with Jonathan Stewart out with a hamstring injury, but Rivera said the streak was a matter of pride and he is eager to start a new one.
DOMINATING THE RIVALRY: The Panthers have won six straight games against their NFC South rival.
AP sports writer Fred Goodall in Tampa, Florida contributed to this report.
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