CHARLOTTE – The Panthers ended their winless streak last week at New Orleans, but they haven't won a game at Bank of America Stadium since October 5. They hope to change that Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
And they need the fans to play a big part in it.
"It's a different energy at home when the crowd gets into it and they're with us," linebacker Luke Kuechly said. "We appreciate it, and it's one of the biggest things I'm looking forward to this weekend. I know they are juiced up and excited for us to try to go out and get a win."
The players want to give the fans a reason to be excited. So does head coach Ron Rivera.
"We want energy. We want to be excited," Rivera said. "I'd love to have that feeling that we created last year with having success and having the fans come and be a big part of it. That was tremendous. They've done it for us in the past, and we'd love to have them do it again.
"It's important for us, and it's important for our fanbase to know that we appreciate them. We appreciate them coming out and supporting us in the tough times. This has been a tough year, we know that."
But the Panthers are still fighting for the NFC South division title.
"These next couple weeks, who knows?" Rivera said.
Quarterback Cam Newton won't play this week following his car accident on Tuesday, but he said he'll be the biggest cheerleader to help get the crowd fired up throughout Sunday's game.
The Panthers have full confidence in backup Derek Anderson, who will try to help lead Carolina to a much-needed win in his second start of the season.
"It's going to take a citywide effort," Anderson said. "We need to get the stadium rocking."
EMERGENCY QB: Joe Webb will back up Anderson against the Buccaneers, but who serves as the emergency third option?
Head coach Ron Rivera said it would be wide receiver De'Andre Presley or wide receiver Philly Brown.
Presley played some quarterback at Appalachian State, completing 318-of-522 passes for 3,911 yards and 27 touchdowns with 13 interceptions. Brown did not play quarterback at Ohio State but he went so far as to say quarterback is his natural position.
"I'm telling y'all. You'll see," Brown said. "No, hopefully, you won't see. But I'll be ready."
PANTHER TALK FOR CHARITY: Fans are invited to join members of the team for a special edition of Panther Talk to benefit Classroom Central on Monday, Dec. 15 from 6 to 9 p.m in the Red Zone at Bank of America Stadium.
Admission is free, but donations of school supplies or money for Classroom Central are encouraged. Classroom Central is a non-profit store where teachers can obtain materials free of charge for their students in need. Items in high demand are pencils, paper, colored markers, colored pencils, glue sticks and scissors.
Fans who contribute to Classroom Central will be given a ticket good for player autographs, and they'll be entered in a raffle for an array of prizes.
Live music from the Franklin St. Band – featuring Panthers play-by-play announcer Mick Mixon on the drums – will begin at 6:30. Panther Talk starts at 8.
Sir Purr and TopCats also will be appearing. Fans can park in the Morehead Street parking lot, and food and beverages will be available from the Red Zone Market Express.