Carolina Panthers

Three things to watch: Chase Jameis Winston, or just confuse him?

Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen talks about Bucs, Lovie Smith and Cam Newton

Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen discusses the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Lovie Smith and quarterback Cam Newton's performance this season.
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Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen discusses the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Lovie Smith and quarterback Cam Newton's performance this season.

Three things to watch in Sunday’s Carolina Panthers game at Tampa Bay:

Can Jared Allen pump up the pass rush?

It was a wild week for the Panthers defensive line, which lost end Charles Johnson for at least eight weeks but gained one of the league’s best all-time pass rushers. Jared Allen struggled in parts of two seasons with Chicago. But he’s back at end in a 4-3 scheme after never fitting in as a stand-up linebacker when the Bears switched to a 3-4 this year. Allen will line up against rookie left tackle Donovan Smith, a second-round pick from Penn State. Allen will come at Smith with a variety of moves, although his bull rush suffered last year when he lost weight because of pneumonia.

Panthers will try to confuse Jameis Winston

When the Panthers face a young quarterback, defensive coordinator Sean McDermott’s scheme typically includes coverage disguises in the secondary (see Week 1 vs. Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles). Winston, this year’s No. 1 pick, fixed in on receiver Mike Evans last week against Houston, targeting him 17 times. Winston likely will be missing one of his favorite receivers: TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins is doubtful with a shoulder injury. If Josh Norman and the rest of the secondary can get Winston to hold the ball an extra half-second, it would help the front four turn up the pressure.

Newton facing a secondary in flux

Cam Newton is coming off a complete game against New Orleans. There should be opportunities downfield against a Bucs secondary in flux. CB Alterraun Verner, a big free agent acquisition last year, has been benched in favor of Tim Jennings. Johnthan Banks, the other starting CB, is doubtful with a knee injury. But the Bucs’ D has received a lift from rookie LB Kwon Alexander, the NFL’s Rookie of the Week after making 10 tackles and an interception vs. Houston. But the Bucs give up a lot of yardage and weight up front, so expect Mike Shula to try to establish the run game early.

Panthers at Buccaneers

Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

Watch: Fox

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