CCU’s Tolbert, Norman make losing debuts for Panthers

Former Coastal Carolina University standouts Mike Tolbert and Josh Norman made their debuts with the Carolina Panthers on Sunday in a losing effort to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 16-10.

Tolbert, a veteran fullback acquired from the San Diego Chargers, had three receptions for 8 yards and one rush for 2 yards. Norman, a rookie defensive back, had four tackles, but it wasn’t enough against the Bucs.

Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman completed 16 of 24 passes with a touchdown and Tampa Bay’s rejuvenated defense shut down Cam Newton and visiting Carolina.

The Bucs held Carolina to 301 yards – 10 rushing – and twice intercepted Newton, who was 23 of 33 passing for 303 yards and a touchdown.

Buccaneers rookie running back Doug Martin, the 31st overall pick, rushed for 95 yards on 24 carries in his NFL debut.

Tampa Bay scored on its first two possessions and took a 13-0 lead into halftime. Carolina closed to within 13-7 on its opening possession of the second half after Newton found a wide-open Brandon LaFell over the middle for a 22-yard touchdown.

A blocked punt by Aqib Talib set up Tampa Bay at the Carolina 42 with 11:10 remaining and the Buccaneers took a 16-7 lead on Barth’s 40-yard field goal with 7:58 to go.

After Justin Medlock’s 21-yard field goal made it a 16-10 game with 2:46 left, Tampa Bay recorded a first down and ran out the clock.

The Panthers play their home opener Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.

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