TAMPA — Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski has a multitude of weapons at his disposal, from 6-foot-6 rookie QB Cam Newton to 5-foot-9 veteran WR Steve Smith.
But sizing up what Chudzinski has in store is tough for any defense because he's not afraid to reach deep into his bag of trick plays.
In the Bucs' 38-19 home loss to Carolina on Dec. 4, Chudzinski had WR Legedu Naanee — who went to Boise State to play quarterback — throw a pass back to Newton for 27 yards to set up a touchdown.
On one play last week against the Texans, Newton took the snap and rolled to his right. But what the Texans didn't see was Newton stick the ball between the legs of FB Richie Brockel, who ran for a 7-yard touchdown.
The hidden-ball trick was loosely based on a play called "the annexation of Puerto Rico" from the 1994 movie the Little Giants.
"The last time they played us, they got a little trick, throwback play," Bucs coach Raheem Morris said. "They got out there and lined up quick and we got one guy lined up on the wrong side, and that's all you need, is one guy on the wrong side to make a big play happen.
"We saw the chicanery … there. Last week we got to see it. And then also, Cam Newton creates that kind of dynamic on the goal line as well because of some of the things he's able to do. It's not often you see LeBron James get the ball on the snap and jump over the whole offensive line and score a touchdown with your quarterback and not worry about him getting hurt. … Chud has done a great job done there, just like he's done everywhere. He's dynamic, and he's good for this league."
PRO BOWL BUCS? Last season, when the Bucs went 10-6, they were snubbed by the Pro Bowl when the teams originally were announced. Eventually, LT Donald Penn, who was an alternate, was added to the roster and was the only Tampa Bay player at the NFL all-star game in Hawaii.
This season, the Bucs expect to be shut out again. However, Morris believes a few players are deserving of consideration — P Michael Koenen, G Davin Joseph and CB Ronde Barber. Koenen is 18th in the NFL with a 44.7-yard average and has 30 kickoffs for touchbacks. Barber, 36, is third on the team in tackles 72 and leads the club with three INTs.
"Our punter has done a great job all year," Morris said. "He certainly deserves that type of accolade. Davin Joseph has been exactly what we wanted him to be when we signed him.
"Ronde Barber is always in consideration just because of who Ronde Barber is and the dynamics he has and his ability to go out there and make plays at his age. He's the ageless wonder."
INJURY UPDATE: The defense is struggling on the injury front. DE Michael Bennett (toe), DT Brian Price (ankle), DT Albert Haynesworth (knee) and LB Geno Hayes (knee) did not practice Wednesday, but Morris hopes they will be available for Saturday's game. WR Arrelious Benn, who missed last week's game against Dallas with a concussion, practiced for the second straight day. LB Adam Hayward (foot), WR Sammie Stroughter (knee), DT Roy Miller (back) and QB Josh Freeman (shoulder) had full participation.