NFL Carolina PanthersTampa Bay Buccaneers

Carolina Panthers: Key Division Injury Will Have Little Impact

Kim Klement-US Presswire

No one, not even fans of rival teams, like to see any player get hurt, or worst, injured for an entire season. Not even within the NFC South.

Carolina Panthers fans weren’t jumping up and down when Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Adrian Clayborn went out in week three during a game against the Dallas Cowboys. Maybe a select pitiless few were, but not true Panthers fans who respect the game of football.

Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano announced on Monday that Clayborn has in fact been ruled out for the remainder of 2012 due to a right knee injury that caused him to leave Sunday’s action early. A huge blow for the Buccaneers defense, but one they can overcome.

Tampa Bay has plenty of viable depth on their defensive line and most importantly, their second-round pick from a year ago, defensive end Da’Quan Bowers, is expected to return to the practice field after week six of the regular season. This somewhat surprising considering Bowers suffered an Achilles tear back in May and did undergo surgery to have the damage repaired.

Bowers had a lack luster rookie season in 2011 to say the least. The once highly touted defensive end in college, only registered 1.5 sacks and 25 tackles last year.

However, the Buccaneers still have a lot invested in Bowers, showing their fans that they believe he can be an effective starter when he returns.

How does all this impact the Panthers?

Well, it will prove to have little impact on the Panthers going forward. Carolina doesn’t play Tampa Bay again until week eleven, meaning Bowers should have the rust knocked off by then.

Plus, Tampa Bay will surely have their defensive end rotation pretty well figured out by the time they face Carolina again. Oh, and let’s not forget to mention the Buccaneers have already defeated the Panthers once in week one.

Aside from the head-to-head matchup, this injury to Clayborn could damper Tampa Bay’s effort in week four. Clayborn is a solid young player and his presence on the field will be a little tough to overcome, but don’t expect this injury to cost the Buccaneers any games, and definitely don’t expect this injury to do the Panthers any favors.

Robert Kester, Carolina Panthers columnist. Please follow @robertkester1.