Tampa Bay Buccaneers

5 Buccaneers to Watch vs. Panthers

Five players to keep an eye on when the Buccaneers take on the Panthers on Sunday.

1. LB Kwon Alexander
When competing against a mobile quarterback, a large part of the containment responsibility falls on the middle linebacker. Cam Newton has been one of the most successful quarterbacks running with the football this season, scoring twice and averaging 4.6 yards per carry. He is the only Panther to score on the ground so far this season. Alexander will also have his hands full with tight end Greg Olsen, Carolina's leading receiver and a 2014 Pro Bowler. 

2. WR Mike Evans
Following Tampa Bay's Week 3 loss to Houston, Evans shouldered much of the blame. In his what he considered his first full game back from a hamstring injury, Evans had a few drops in critical situations. "This team needs better from me," he told reporters on Wednesday. When attempting to rebound on Sunday, the second-year Pro will be facing a tough test. Carolina's top cornerback, Josh Norman, is the No. 4 player in the league at his position, according to Pro Football Focus.

3. CB Alterraun Verner
Since Week 1, Verner has seen his playing time slowly dwindle. He played 46 snaps in Week 1, 36 in Week 2 and 28 in Week 3. Against Houston, Tim Jennings replaced him in the starting lineup. Verner could have an opportunity to move back into the starting lineup against the Panthers with fellow corner Johnthan Banks nursing a knee injury.

4. DE Jacquies Smith
Entering Week 4, Smith's four sacks are the most in the NFL. In order to remain the leader, he will have to out-perform Carolina's offensive line, which might be their strongest unit on the offensive side of the ball. Three of the team's highest-rated players, per PFF, are offensive linemen.

5. DT Gerald McCoy
McCoy is nursing a shoulder injury, something he said was undoubtedly affecting his play. McCoy expects to play on Sunday and will be instrumental in shutting down the league's sixth-best rushing attack. Through three games, Carolina averages 132 rushing yards per game.

Photos of the Panthers' projected starters from team's website.

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