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Next up for Panthers: Bucs, then a ‘mini bye’

Here comes a quick turnaround for the Panthers (3-3), who will play at Tampa Bay (0-6) on Thursday night. If they can win that one, they will take a 4-3 record into what offensive tackle Jordan Gross calls “almost a mini-bye” – a 10-day break before they will play the dangerous Atlanta Falcons at home Nov.3.

• Did you catch much of former N.C. State quarterback Mike Glennon’s performance Sunday against Atlanta? Let’s just say there’s a rookie who needs some work. He is holding the ball way too long. The Panthers have to like the idea of going against Glennon on Thursday night instead of Josh Freeman, who beat the Panthers twice in 2012 but now is starting at Minnesota.

• Mike Tolbert scored once Sunday, but three times his short-yardage runs worked out badly. There were two goal-line stops by the Rams – one in which Tolbert drew a terrible but justified personal foul penalty – and a safety when he couldn’t get out of the end zone. It’s time for the Cam Newton quarterback sneak to return more fully to the offense, especially in “inches-to-go” situations.

• Newton sets himself up for imitation with his “Superman” TD pose, and he saw it again Sunday. After St. Louis’s Eugene Sims tackled Tolbert in the end zone for a first-quarter safety, he gleefully imitated Newton’s gesture. Wasn’t the first time, won’t be the last.

• Safety Quintin Mikell had a hidden gem in the first quarter. The former Ram didn’t get suckered when St. Louis went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1, guarding perfectly against the play-action pass and forcing an incompletion and zero points on the drive for St. Louis.

Mikell also had a hand in Captain Munnerlyn’s interception return for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage, messing up Sam Bradford’s throw and allowing Munnerlyn to give Carolina that quick 7-0 lead. Bradford in general threw the ball impressively, though – I enjoyed watching him play and hope his knee injury isn’t serious.

• Although coach Ron Rivera didn’t get the overturn he wanted on his challenge of a Steve Smith reception that was ruled down at the 1, give him credit for trying it and for throwing the red flag about 30 yards on a rope.

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