INSIDE THE CAMPS
Forgive the Bucs for getting that rundown feeling every time they play the Carolina Panthers.
In their first meeting this season at Raymond James Stadium, Carolina ran the football on 15 or 16 plays during an 80-yard march that took 8:04 off the clock for the game-winning touchdown.
Panthers running backs Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams combined to rush for 262 yards and three touchdowns in a 28-21 win over Tampa Bay.
That was only slightly better for the Bucs defense that allowed 299 yards by the Panthers in their last meeting.
"You hate to say it's just a pride thing," said Bucs coach Raheem Morris. "Obviously, you'll go back and see if it was a scheme thing, but you're talking about two different schemes. In '08, we went out there and go embarrassed in a 9-3 vs. 9-3 Monday Night Football battle for everybody to see. Then you talk about the game here with a new defense, new everything, new regime and they did the same thing.
"They came in here and we held them to a little bit less, which is not good enough. And they ended their final drive the same way. It was a more competitive game, but at the same time, it's not good enough. It's only good enough if you go out there and win."
Since their first meeting, Morris has taken control of the defense from Jim Bates. The Bucs did a better job against the Atlanta Falcons, holding them to 2.8 yards per carry.
Of course, the loss at Carolina last December began a four-game losing skid that resulted in the Bucs missing the playoffs and coach Jon Gruden getting fired.
"There is no being shell-shocked," Morris said. "There's only bounce back and get ready to play. At that point in your mind, as a coach you've got four games to get in. That's your mentality. My mentality was to move on to try to get our next win and get into the playoffs."
It's a foregone conclusion that Matt Moore will start Sunday at quarterback for the Carolina Panthers, but the bigger question might be the status of starting running back DeAngelo Williams.
Williams missed his second straight day of practice Thursday while resting an ankle injury he sustained in the second half of last week's game against the New York Jets.
Coach John Fox remains optimistic Williams will play Sunday against Tampa Bay, which is more than can be said about Jake Delhomme, who is expected to be inactive with a broken finger on his right hand. Matt Moore will start for the Panthers.
"I'd be hopeful he'd be able to go Sunday for sure and anything before that I'd be happy with, too," Fox said of Williams.
Williams should be eager to play against the Bucs.
In the last two meeting with them he's rushed for a combined 338 yards and touchdowns.
"The running back position takes its wear and tear on the body," Fox said. "Right now, medically, they felt like he was best getting treatment today. So there is always tomorrow."
His backup, Jonathan Stewart, returned to practice Thursday after getting his normal day off on Wednesday to rest his Achilles. Like Williams, Stewart has also recorded back-to-back 100-yard games against Tampa Bay in the last two meetings.
Stewart has 225 yards and three scores against the Bucs and the Panthers as a team have run for 566 yards and seven touchdowns in the last two meetings.
--CB Aqib Talib has a hamstring injury and did not practice Thursday. It's unlikely he will play Sunday at Carolina. He held the Panthers' Steve Smith to one reception in their last meeting.
--CB Elbert Mack could start at left cornerback Sunday if Aqib Talib is unable to play.
--WR Michael Clayton has a knee injury and did not practice Thursday. He is expected to miss two games with an MCL sprain.
--DE Michael Bennett did not participate in practice Thursday because of a turf toe injury.
--OT Donald Penn (knee) returned to practice Thursday and will start against the Panthers.