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Top Quotes, Overview of the Panthers & More | Brianna's Blitz 

Top Quotes of the week, including a look ahead to Sunday’s divisional matchup with the Carolina Panthers

Bri's Blitz Dec 29

Ryan Jensen Back at Practice 

Buccaneers' Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen began his 21-day practice window on Wednesday. He suffered a significant knee injury on the team's second day of training camp and is now eligible to rejoin the Bucs active roster at any time during the three-week period off injured reserve. During the open media portion of practice this week, Jensen took part in one-on-one drills with Robert Hainsey and John Molchon. Head Coach Todd Bowles stressed the team has not made a determination on a specific return date for Jensen and the staff plans to monitor his progress day-to-day. Regardless of status, Jensen suited up on the field was an encouraging and emboldening sight for the team. 

"The goal is for him to get healthy – this is all part of his rehab right now," Bowles described. "We're not even thinking about him getting in pads at this point. He's day-to-day. As it progresses, we'll have more of a report, but right now he's just happy to be out there running, doing something – that's good for him and it's a good lift for him and it's a good lift for the guys."

Facing a Surging Panthers' Team

On Sunday, the Bucs will have to match the Panthers' physicality. The game may very well hinge upon the trenches. After cruising to a 2-7 start, the Panthers have since fired Head Coach Matt Rhule and traded both star running back Christian McCaffrey and starting receiver Robbie Anderson. Carolina has undergone a revolving door at quarterback, with Sam Darnold now back at the helm after the release of Baker Mayfield and injury to P.J. Walker. With slippery runner Chuba Hubbard and north-south bruiser, D'Onta Foreman, the Panthers' offense is predicated on their ground game. Against Detroit last Sunday, Carolina ran for a franchise-record 320 yards in a drubbing of the Lions. Darnold's mobility serves as an extension of the run game with the threat of a tuck-and-run on zone reads. On the opposite side of the ball, Carolina's defense has made strides. The unit has allowed an average of 18.1 points per game over the last six contests. The team's defense is led by Brian Burns, the pash rush catalyst who is sixth in the NFL with 12.5 sacks and tackling-menace, Shaq Thompson, who has accumulated a team-high 116 tackles, eight tackles for loss and four passes defensed. With freak athleticism on all three levels, the Bucs will have to stay disciplined in the Week 17 marquee matchup. 

"They've done a great job stopping the run and getting turnovers and getting off the field," Todd Bowles stated. "They've done an outstanding job running the football. Sam [Darnold] has done a great job getting plays down the field, as well. The runners are playing well – they've got playmakers all over the place. They have a lot of confidence and they've been playing some good ball."

The Panthers are 6-2 in 2022 when their rushing attack eclipses the 100-yard marker, and the club has averaged just under 200 yards in the aforementioned eight games. Controlling gaps will be a focal point for the Bucs come Sunday. 


Playoff aspirations hang in the balance on Week 17's matchup on New Year's Day. With a victory, the Buccaneers clinch the NFC South. Conversely, the Panthers are eliminated from playoff contention with a loss. With high-stakes on the line, Sunday's contest will likely prove to be a physical one. After two discouraging losses to the 49ers and Bengals, the Bucs led a stunning comeback against the Cardinals on Christmas. They will now face a Panthers' team that has won three of their previous four games, spearheaded by a domineering rushing attack.

"We understand what's at stake here," Chris Godwin stated. "We've been pretty up and down all season, but it's time for us to turn it on. If we want to make it to the postseason, we control our own destiny right now, so we've got to go and take advantage of it. This is a team that has beaten us already and they play really hard, so we've got to go out there and bring it."

A perpetual theme has reared its head during games for the Bucs in 2022: inconsistency. Slow starts have forced the Bucs to become one-dimensional in catch-up mode, causing fatigue to set in on defense. The Buccaneers were dominant in the first two quarters against the Bengals but collapsed in the second half. Tampa Bay has yet to play a complete, 60-minute game. With playoffs looming, Sunday provides an opportunity for the Bucs to right the ship against a divisional foe.

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