Panthers looking past Steve Smith?
In 2011 Steve Smith was targeted 129 times and ended the season with 1,394 receiving yards, his best total since 2008. Many expected Newton and Smith to come out firing on all cylinders in 2012, but that wasn’t the case.
Instead, the Panthers struggled early in 2012, as did Cam Newton. As the team struggled so did Smith. He became frustrated with losing and started hinting it may be time to call it quits.
His frustrations went in spurts much like his production. He was held without a touchdown until Week 9 and was held under 100 yards receiving the span of four games twice during the season. His final numbers were still impressive (1,174 yards receiving, 4 touchdowns).
Steve Smith can’t play forever. Sooner or later the Panthers must find a replacement, but is now the time?
For someone who plays with the emotion that Steve Smith does, 12 NFL seasons can take its toll, but it’s what is best for the organization and could extend his career by putting someone like Mike Wallace or Wes Welker on the opposite side.
There were a few times during the 2012 season where Smith was down on the team and for a team that has a young quarterback who rides an emotional roller coaster the Panthers need stability.
Yes, the Panthers are looking past Steve Smith because it’s what élite NFL teams do. They plan for the future and bring in others to compete and help players like Steve Smith.
GB Bongiovanni is a syndicated writer and owner of TPF. He can be contacted at GB@GMAEnterprises and @GBBongiovanni
Stats provided by NFL.com