Bucs Schiano will make his regular-season debut at RJS vs. Cam Newton and Carolina Panthers
Greg Schiano's background is on defense and that expertise will be tested in his NFL head coaching debut trying to stop Rookie of the Year Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers in a 4:15 p.m. game Sept. 9 at Raymond James Stadium.
When the league unveiled the 2012 schedule Tuesday, the Bucs learned they will begin the regular season at home for the fourth straight year.
Newton had career performances in beating the Bucs twice last season. He rushed for three touchdowns and passed for another score in the Panthers' 38-19 win Dec. 4 at RJS and then passed for three TDs and ran for another score in a 48-16 win at Carolina Christmas Eve.
But after opening with the NFC South rival Panthers, the Bucs begin a three-game stretch against the NFC East with games at the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, at the Dallas Cowboys and home against the Washington Redskins.
The Bucs, who finished 4-12 in 2011, have only one primetime game: Thursday, Oct. 25 at Minnesota at 8:20 p.m. (EDT) on NFL Network.
Tampa Bay's bye week comes in the fifth week of the season, Oct. 7. The Bucs return to host Kansas City and the New Orleans Saints, both 1 p.m. kickoffs at RJS. The Bucs managed to mostly dodge wintery weather. Tampa Bay visits Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos Dec. 2 at Mile High Stadium in a game that could offer cold conditions. But their two other December road games are in domed stadiums: at New Orleans Dec. 16 and at Atlanta Dec. 30 for the regular season finale.
Here is the Bucs 2012 regular-season schedule
Sun. Sept. 9 CAROLINA, 4:15 PM FOX
Sun. Sept. 16 at N.Y. Giants 1:00 PM FOX
Sun. Sept. 23 at Dallas 1:00 PM FOX
Sun. Sept. 30 WASHINGTON, 4:15 PM FOX
Sun. Oct. 7 Bye Week
Sun. Oct. 14 KANSAS CITY 1:00 PM CBS
Sun. Oct. 21 NEW ORLEANS 1:00 PM FOX
Thurs. Oct. 25 at Minnesota 8:30 PM NFLN
Sun. Nov. 4 at Oakland 4:05 PM FOX
Sun. Nov. 11 SAN DIEGO 1:00 PM CBS
Sun. Nov. 18 at Carolina 1:00 PM FOX
Sun. Nov. 25 ATLANTA 1:00 PM FOX
Sun. Dec. 2 at Denver 4:05 PM FOX
Sun. Dec. 9 PHILADELPHIA 1:00 PM FOX
Sun. Dec. 16 at New Orleans 1:00 PM FOX
Sun. Dec. 23 ST. LOUIS 1:00 PM FOX
Sun. Dec. 30 at Atlanta 1:00 PM FOX