The Panthers will be playing without Cam Newton on Monday night, but their opponents won’t be at close to full strength, either.
The Bucs are expected to be down their top two running backs in Doug Martin and Charles Sims and their top three defensive linemen in Robert Ayers, Gerald McCoy and Clinton McDonald, all of whom are listed as either doubtful our out. Add in tight end Luke Stocker and wide receiver Cecil Shorts, and that’s seven players who won’t play, meaning there’s no choice to make about which 46 players to make active on Monday night: Only 46 of the Bucs’ 53 players are healthy.
At a time when the NFL’s prime time ratings are in decline, this Bucs-Panthers game seems destined to draw more low ratings on Monday night football. It wouldn’t be a very good game even with everyone healthy. With key players on both teams absent, it could get ugly.