CB Talib (hamstring) questionable, RB Clifton Smith (knee) added to report
Cornerback Aqib Talib may be the Bucs most valuable player on defense. He leads the team with five interceptions and routinely blankets the opponent's top receiver.
In their last meeting, Talib held Carolina Panthers wideout Steve Smith to one reception.
But Talib has been battling a hamstring injury for the past five weeks, and although he is listed as questionable for Sunday's game at Carolina, doesn't have as much mobility as he has in the past, according to coach Raheem Morris.
"It's the same things he's done the last five weeks,'' Morris said of Talib. "He's kind of been the same way, the same status for most of the time. He's actually had more practice the other weeks he was limited. But it's the same sort of deal. You never know what's going to happen until he wakes up on Sunday.''
If Talib is unable to play, cornerback Ebert Mack would likely start in his place and the Bucs will utilize Derrick Roberson as their third cornerback.
Morris said Talib's value on defense is obvious.
"I'm not sure how many defenses Talib wouldn't be the No. 1 player on for what he does,'' Morris said. "He's a pretty talented guy, for what he's done all year, being able to match receivers and match people. I think he's given up two touchdowns, I'm not sure. But that's a pretty big-time stat for him. He has (five) picks. He's had a pretty productive year, so he's going to be heartbroken if he's not able to go.''
As for the Bucs other injuries, receiver Michael Clayton (knee) and defensive end Michael Bennett (toe) are out for Sunday's game. Running back Clifton Smith (knee) was added to the report Friday and is questionable along with defensive tackle Roy Miller (ankle), Tackle Donald Penn (knee), receiver Maurice Stovall (thigh), defensive end StyleZ G. White (hand) and tight end Kellen Winslow are probable.