TAMPA — As the Bucs deal with their own injury concerns, they at least won't have to face the defending league MVP on Monday night.
Panthers QB Cam Newton will miss the game against Tampa Bay as he remains in concussion protocol, which means backup Derek Anderson, who beat the Bucs twice in 2014, will start. Those 2014 games are the only ones Newton has missed since joining the Panthers as the No. 1 pick out of Auburn in 2011.
Anderson, 33, came off the bench in last week's loss to the Falcons and went 17-for-23 for 172 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions, getting his most significant action since 2014. He quarterbacked Carolina to two close victories over the Bucs — his only starts in the past five seasons — combining for three touchdowns and no interceptions in those wins.
The Panthers also be without their top running back, Jonathan Stewart, and starting LT Michael Oher, both ruled out Saturday. Carolina will slide RT Mike Remmers, a former Bucs practice squad player, over to left tackle against a team that might be without four of its top five defensive linemen because of injuries.
Rookie CB James Bradberry (turf toe) is also out, further depleting a Panthers secondary that gave up more than 500 passing yards to Atlanta last week and waived starting CB Bene Benwikere on Friday.
STILL A CHANCE: The Bucs are keeping the door open on some of their injured players.
Six players who have been sidelined, including three who haven't practiced this week — DT Gerald McCoy (calf), RB Doug Martin (hamstring) and RB Charles Sims (knee) — are listed on the team's final injury report as doubtful, which is better than ruling them out but still translates as unlikely to play.
DE Robert Ayers (ankle), DT Clinton McDonald (hamstring) and TE Luke Stocker (ankle), who had some limited participation in practice this week, are also doubtful, though Ayers and McDonald haven't practiced since Thursday. WR Cecil Shorts, who will miss a third straight game with a hamstring injury, is the only player officially ruled out.
Five players were listed as questionable: CB Brent Grimes (hamstring), TE Brandon Myers (hip), C Evan Smith (back) and S Keith Tandy (calf), who all participated fully in Saturday's practice, along with rookie DE Noah Spence (shoulder), who had limited participation Saturday. The Bucs have enough injuries that the team might need to make a roster move or two just to have sustainable depth at some positions.
If Martin and Sims are out, the Bucs would have only two running backs, likely starter Jacquizz Rodgers and Peyton Barber; if all four defensive linemen listed can't play, they would have only six healthy linemen so they would likely need to promote at least one from the practice squad. Only three running backs and eight offensive linemen have dressed in each of the team's first four games.
Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.