Time for concern in Carolina?

There isn’t a positive way to spin the injury to Carolina WR Steve Smith, and it is hard not to shake your head when an NFL player breaks his arm in a flag football game in the offseason.

Going back and trying to place blame on Smith is a waste of time. We all will agree it was a bad move and a regrettable move. Instead, the main issue here is how this injury affects the Panthers and their preparation for the 2010 season.

According to reports, Smith will be sidelined for 10 weeks — a massive amount of time when we start to discuss training camp, the preseason and more importantly, the possible QB competition between Matt Moore and rookie Jimmy Clausen. I don’t care who the QB is, because when you lose a No. 1 WR like Smith, it can alter development.

Not good for two young signal-callers who are trying to show the coaching staff they deserve to be the starter. Yes, I understand that injuries happen, but Smith isn’t a basic No. 1 guy. He is the deep ball for the Panthers. The one guy who can stretch the field and command respect from defensive coordinators and secondaries in this league.

Moore and Clausen need that. Instead, they get Dwayne Jarrett and a couple of rookies — who are anything but dependable at this stage of the game. Not a very attractive group when we take Smith out of the equation.

And, let’s not forget how this can affect Smith and his preparation. You get a veteran player who doesn’t get to work in training camp or go against live competition in the preseason, he could start slow and have a hard time producing early in the season.

In reality, I feel bad for Smith. He is one of the toughest competitors I played against in my career and a nightmare when we talk about game plans and matchups from a defensive perspective. The last thing you want to see is a player going down before camp, because it hurts his preparation in the summer.

And, in Carolina, it could have a direct impact on how this team develops throughout the month of August. A very good football team who now has a big question mark.

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