Injury-depleted Panthers cut starting CB with Bucs ahead
Just as the Bucs are dealing with significant injuries, so too is Carolina, which could be without key players Monday and also waived starting cornerback Bene Benikwere on Friday in advance of Monday's game in Charlotte.
The abrupt dismissal of Benwikere leaves a struggling Panthers secondary with very little experience -- second-round rookie James Bradberry, another starter, is expected to miss the game with turf toe, so Carolina is left to start third-round rookie Daryl Worley and presumably nickel cornerback Robert McClain. The Panthers will have Teddy Williams, who was inactive last week, and rookie Zack Sanchez, who was promoted from the practice squad Friday.
Carolina is likely to be without three key leaders on offense: QB Cam Newton, the reigning NFL MVP, is still in concussion protocol, as is LT Michael Oher; starting RB Jonathan Stewart is expected to be sidelined again with a hamstring injury. The Panthers had 13 players on their official injury report, though seven were upgraded in their participation level Friday: LB Thomas Davis, DE Charles Johnson, WRs Ted Ginn and Devin Funchess, C Ryan Kalil, T Mike Remmers and DT Star Lotulelei.
If Newton can't go, the Panthers will turn to veteran backup Derek Anderson, who has only two starts in the last five seasons, both of them wins against the Bucs in 2014. Anderson played well in two close wins over the Bucs when Newton was injured, but hasn't started any other games since the 2010 season, when he lost his last six starts.