Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

With homefield on line, Carolina to play best against Bucs

TAMPA — The Panthers were perfect until last week's loss at Atlanta ended a streak of 18 regular-season wins, the longest in NFC history. At 14-1, they need a win over the Bucs on Sunday or an Arizona loss to secure homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.

Carolina coach Ron Rivera no longer has to worry about rust versus rest, because the Panthers will play all of their starters.

"That's exactly it. We've got a lot to play for, so we're going to play the guys as needed. We're going to play with every intent of winning the football game," Rivera said Thursday. "That's the truth of the matter. I'm not really as torn as if we had won last week. I most certainly would've been torn."

It has been more than a calendar year since the Panthers have had to respond to a defeat, but Rivera said players have done a good job of putting the loss and the pursuit of perfection behind them.

"I know we took it hard," Rivera said of the 20-13 loss to the Falcons. "Monday was a day we really took it hard. We came back in on Tuesday and we had meetings and the (mood) seemed to be dissipating. (Wednesday), we had a good, spirited practice, which was exciting, and then today the tempo continued. I like to believe these guys have gotten over it. They're focusing on playing Tampa Bay now.

"So far it's been good. It's been a good week of practice. … I feel positive about their attitude about being ready to bounce back. It's been a while and fortunately for us, we have an opportunity to get back on the saddle and get riding again."

However, Rivera was not happy about the Bucs-Panthers game being flexed from its 1 p.m. start to 4:25, the same as the kickoff to the Cardinals-Seahawks game.

"What I don't like about it is it puts people in a peculiar position. You know, we should be playing at 1 and whether we win or lose, that puts the decision now on the head coach in Arizona and he's the one who makes the decision on what he wants to do. Doing what they did to us … there's no more decision. And I don't think it's fair. I don't think it's fair to put coaches and teams in positions like that. Believe me, if it was the other way around, I'd be disappointed."

CONTE TRIES TO FINISH STRONG: The rap on S Chris Conte when he signed as a free agent from the Bears was he couldn't stay healthy. Until he missed last week's game against Chicago with a knee injury, Conte played 14 consecutive games and had 79 tackles, two forced fumbles and two interceptions. Conte did not practice Thursday but hasn't been ruled out of Sunday's game. "I like what he's done," coach Lovie Smith said. "Chris Conte is a good football player when he's on the football field. For the most part, he's remained out there. We've seen flashes. We've seen signs. It's a shame he couldn't play last week, but we'll see what his availability is moving forward."

INJURIES: DT Da'Quan Bowers was excused from practice for personal reasons. FB Jorvorskie Lane had an illness and did not practice.

Contact Rick Stroud at rstroud@tampabay.com and listen from 6 to 9 a.m. weekdays on WDAE-AM 620. View his blog at tampabay.com/blogs/bucs. Follow @NFLStroud.

With homefield on line, Carolina to play best against Bucs 12/31/15 [Last modified: Thursday, December 31, 2015 8:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays blow lead in ninth, lose in 10 to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rays manager Kevin Cash liked the way Alex Cobb was competing Friday night. He liked the way the hard contact made by the Rangers batters went away after the second or third inning. So as the game headed toward the ninth, there was no doubt in Cash's mind that sending Cobb back to the mound was …

    Rays starter Alex Cobb can hardly believe what just happened as he leaves the game in the ninth after allowing a leadoff double then a tying two-run homer to the Rangers’ Shin-Soo Choo.
  2. Rays journal: Steven Souza Jr. gets extra day off to let hip heal

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RF Steven Souza Jr. ran in rightfield before batting practice under the watchful gaze of the Rays training staff and manager Kevin Cash. Afterward, Souza told Cash he could use one more day of rest before playing on the left hip he strained Wednesday in Oakland.

    Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Brad Miller (13) gets a hug from right fielder Steven Souza Jr. (20) after his solo home run in the fourth inning of the game between the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, July 21, 2017.
  3. Rays vs. Rangers, 7:10 p.m. Saturday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Rangers

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: FS1; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

  4. Roger Mooney's takeaways from Friday's Rays-Rangers game

    The Heater

    Looks like LF Corey Dickerson is coming out of his funk at the plate — .186 average in past 16 games entering Friday. He had two hits Wednesday in Oakland and three hits Friday against the Rangers. Okay, one was an infield hit that bounced high in front of the plate, but the other was a long home run to …

  5. History shows Ole Miss upheaval tough to overcome

    College

    After Mississippi football coach Hugh Freeze resigned Thursday, with the opener six weeks away, offensive line coach Matt Luke is being thrown into an interim head coaching position. He will try to save a season that already had been scarred by a self-imposed bowl ban for NCAA violations.

    After coach Jim Tressel resigned, Ohio State went 6-7, including a loss to Florida in the Gator Bowl, in 2011.