The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers should have their running game intact today. Both Doug Martin and Jonathan Stewart are ready to go, despite missing some practices this week. Mike Tolbert is ready, too.
As already announced on Friday, Luke Kuechly won't go for the Panthers as he's still suffering from a concussion. A.J. Klein will take his place. For the Bucs, cornerback Johnthan Banks is absent and will be replaced by Mike Jenkins, who this coaching staff likes a lot more than Alterraun Verner. Both teams are missing some starters due to long-term injuries in Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson and Bucs tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins will be missing.
The Bucs will be without two more starters in tight end Luke Stocker and center Evan Smith. The latter will be replaced by veteran Joe Hawley, who was adequate the past two games. Stocker won't be replaced as the Bucs have only two other tight ends on the roster in journeyman Brandon Myers and undrafted second-year player Cameron Brate. Stocker will primarily be missed in the running game, as he's never been a useful receiver. I would expect fullback Jorvorskie Lane to see some extra playing time as well.
The Bucs have made one other change in the starting lineup, this one based on play: George Johnson has been benched, with William Gholston starting at left end and Jacquies Smith going to the right side of the defensive line. Johnson has been a disappointment this season, and he was particularly poor against the run, while that's Gholston's biggest strength.
Buccaneers inactives: C Evan Smith, TE Luke Stocker, CB Johnthan Banks, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, QB Ryan Griffin, S Major Wright, WR Russell Shepard.
Panthers inactives: LB Luke Kuechly, S Dean Marlowe, RB Brandon Wegher, T Daryl Williams, G Amini Silatolu, WR Kevin Norwood, WR Jerrico Cotchery