The Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers struggled to overcome deficits in their respective season openers, with the former failing to get much out of anyone other than Christian McCaffrey while the latter saw Jameis Winston throw three interceptions -- with two returned for touchdowns. The NFC South rivals aim to dent the win column at the other's expense on Thursday, when they meet in Charlotte, N.C.
"Obviously, Christian was really good. Outside of Christian, we have a lot of work to do," Panthers Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen told reporters of McCaffrey, who erupted for 209 scrimmage yards (128 rushing, 81 receiving) and two touchdowns in Carolina's 30-27 setback against the Los Angeles Rams. The 23-year-old eviscerated Tampa Bay last season to the tune of 318 scrimmage yards and three TDs (two rushing, one receiving). While McCaffrey's season-opening performance drew rave reviews, Winston's stint was roundly panned in the Buccaneers' 31-17 loss to San Francisco - although coach Bruce Arians wasn't interested in harping on the not-too-distant past. "Learn from what you did, get it corrected," Arians told reporters. "And you get it corrected, the wins will start happening."
ABOUT THE BUCCANEERS (0-1): Promising wide receiver Chris Godwin reeled in Winston's lone scoring strike last week and looks to build off his last encounter with Carolina, in which the 25-year-old recorded 101 receiving yards and a touchdown. Star wideout Mike Evans made just two catches for 28 yards in the opener after amassing a career-high 1,524 receiving yards last season. The 26-year-old had his way with the opposition in 2018, although Carolina's 6-1, 212-pound cornerback James Bradberry held him to a season-low 16 yards in Week 9. While Evans struggled to get it in gear on Sunday, second-year back Ronald Jones gained for 75 yards on 13 carries as Tampa Bay averaged 4.7 yards per carry.
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (0-1): Questions were raised about how Cam Newton looked on Sunday, and we're not talking about his "unconventional" postgame attire. The 2015 NFL MVP attempted just one pass of more than 20 yards and wasn't a part of the running game in the read-option, with his rushing total being a career-worst minus-2. "I'm not going to get into no philosophical discussion about throwing the ball downfield because that's not what this game is about. I took what the defense gives me," Newton, who finished 25-of-38 for 239 yards against the Rams, told reporters. D.J. Moore overcame a backward pass that resulted in a fumble to reel in seven passes for 76 yards.
1. Carolina DT Gerald McCoy faces his former team for the first time after recording 54.5 sacks in nine seasons with Tampa Bay.
2. Buccaneers LB Lavonte David collected 20 tackles and 1.5 sacks against the Panthers in 2018.
3. Olsen expects to play on Thursday after tweaking his back in the season opener.