CHARLOTTE – After recent victories, the Panthers couldn't wait to play their next game. They certainly won't have to wait this time.
Fresh off their third win in four games, the Panthers will be hard-pressed to feel refreshed in time for their Thursday night game at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Still, they're doing all they can to successfully tackle the quick turnaround.
"It's definitely a tough week because it usually takes your body until Wednesday or Thursday to start feeling good again, especially after a tough, physical game like we had against St. Louis," linebacker Thomas Davis said. "But duty calls, so we've got to be sure we're ready to go."
The Panthers (3-3) are doing everything possible to be ready for the Buccaneers (0-6), a process that began last week. Most of the coaching staff did some preliminary work on Tampa Bay last Friday – two days before the Panthers' 30-15 victory over the Rams – and they'll continue to make up for lost time this week.
Mondays typically are spent breaking down the previous day's game, and Tuesdays are the players' day off. This week, Monday included a brief mention of the St. Louis game but focused on getting the game plan for the Buccaneers into the players' hands and heads.
Tuesday will be the opposite of a day off, with the Panthers trying to consolidate the work typically done on Wednesday and Thursday into one day. The team will then travel to Tampa on Wednesday, but not before getting in a walkthrough-type of practice in Charlotte similar to what they normally would do on a Friday.
Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott conceded that there are some things the Panthers simply won't have time for in preparation, but they will be as prepared as possible.
"We have to be smart," McDermott said. "This is when teaching really comes into play. You've got a set amount of time – just like they do – so we've got to be smart with what we present and with what we don't present at the same time so that we hit on what they're really trying to do."
From the standpoint of being physically prepared, head coach Ron Rivera is preaching three Rs – rehydrating, refueling and resting.
Rivera is confident his team will be as ready to play given the circumstances. Following an 0-2 start, momentum is riding high with the Panthers having an opportunity to get above .500 for the first time since 2008.
"We're relevant," Rivera said. "We're a young team that has gotten to a point now where we're doing the things that we need to do and showing what we're capable of.
"It's a great opportunity for this team, for this city, to make a mark. We have to go out and do that."