Days after Bucs coaches acknowledged they needed to provide help to beleaguered rookie left guard Luke Goedeke, they provided relief instead.
Goedeke, who entered the game with an NFL-high 32 quarterback pressures allowed, was replaced by third-year reserve Nick Leverett after the first two Tampa Bay possessions of the first and second halves. Leverett finished out the first half, but Goedeke re-entered later in the second.
“Leverett earned some playing time,” coach Todd Bowles said. “We wanted to change the pace a little bit and give Luke a little bit of a break. They were tight going into training camp, so we wanted to give the guy some reps.”
Bowles said he would have to review the game tape before deciding how to proceed at the position, though Leverett might start Thursday against the Ravens by default. Goedeke was spotted with a boot on his right foot after the game.
Moreover, he appeared to surrender more pressure, and was flattened (right at Brady’s feet) by Panthers defensive tackle Derrick Brown on the game’s second possession.
Panthers starting quarterback PJ Walker, fourth on Carolina’s depth chart in the preseason, now has the distinction of owning victories against arguably the best quarterbacks — Quinton Flowers and Tom Brady — of two bay area teams.
At Temple in 2016, Walker (then known as Phillip Walker) passed for 209 yards in the Owls’ 46-30 triumph in Philadelphia that ultimately cost USF — then led by Flowers — a share of the American Athletic Conference title. On Sunday, he finished 16-for-22 for 177 yards and two touchdowns, completing 11 consecutive passes at one point.
Adding injury to insult, the Bucs’ injury-besieged secondary became even more decimated Sunday afternoon.
Safety Antoine Winfield Jr. entered concussion protocol after being injured on a tackle of running back Raheem Blackshear early in the third quarter, and cornerback Anthony Chesley — elevated from the practice squad on Saturday — sustained a hamstring injury. The team already was playing without cornerbacks Carlton Davis (hip) and Sean Murphy-Bunting (quad).
Additionally, receiver Russell Gage (four catches, 39 yards) injured his hamstring in the second half, and special-teams fixture K.J. Britt headed to the locker room via cart with an apparent right foot injury.
For what it’s worth...
Brady eclipsed his own franchise record for consecutive passes without an interception Sunday, and now stands at 271 throws without a pick. His previous mark (228) was established last season. He also owns the franchise’s third-longest streak (199) set in 2020.
By the numbers
0 First-quarter touchdowns scored by Tampa Bay this season
3 Games in which the Bucs have failed to score in the first quarter, including Sunday’s contest
4 Times the Bucs have been shut out in the first half during the Tom Brady era, including Sunday’s game
6 Plays of at least 20 yards recorded by the Panthers offense in the three games prior to Sunday
7 Plays at least 20 yards recorded by the Panthers against the Bucs
15 Points totaled by the Bucs in the opening period this season
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