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Mason's Minutes: Smith on the mend

Posted Aug 14, 2009

*** UPDATED 8:52 P.M. EDT ***


Being back in uniform gave Steve Smith ample reason to smile Friday. (PHOTO: ANDREW MASON / PANTHERS.COM)


SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Steve Smith was ready to go.

The horn had just blown signaling a change of periods during the Panthers' Friday morning practice, and Smith had just spent his first half-hour back in full uniform since injuring his right shoulder on Monday night.

As seven-on-seven drills were set to begin, Smith buckled his chin strap, grabbed his mouthguard and began inserting it before he was called back.

"I was out there and Coach (John Fox) said, 'Go stand on the sideline,'" Smith said. "I think I actually shocked him. I was putting my mouthpiece in and he said, 'Did you hear me?' I said, 'Oh, I was just double-checking.'"

Fox and the team were only looking out for Smith's well-being when they elected not to have him go through the full morning of work Friday, limiting him to walk-throughs, individual position drills and installation.

"If this were in-season it would probably be a whole different mode," Fox said, "but I think he's going to be fine."

By Friday night, however, Smith did participate in seven-on-seven work as the Panthers went through a 90-minute, lower-contact session in shoulder pads and shorts. Smith had a pair of solid catches during the period.

The shoulder is still sore, Smith acknowledged, but it didn't prevent him from throwing passes to fellow receiver Kenneth Moore as the wideouts gathered following practice.

"It feels good," Smith said. "I can tell it's a bone bruise; it's just on the bone, no ligaments, no lumbar, no muscles or any of that. It's just a pretty good bone bruise."

The most bothersome aspect of the injury isn't on the field, but when he lies down to rest.

"Sleep is kind of difficult, but it's all right," he said. "I wouldn't say I woke up and said, 'Oh, I'm healed.' It's getting more tolerable."


"I know, but I won't say," Smith said with a wry smile. "Nobody's told me not to say anything, actually."

Added Fox: "It doesn't mean he's going to definitely play or not Monday night, but he's healthy."

There are sighs of relief all around the Panthers for Smith's prognosis, in stark contrast to the anger he displayed after incurring the injury, when he booted his helmet in a moment replayed endlessly on SportsCenter in recent days.

"Getting hurt, that's when I took it out on my helmet," he said. "You spend seven months working hard, and in seven seconds, you're back in the same position. But it's not broken.

"I can do a lot of things that I couldn't do Monday, and I can do a lot of things that I couldn't do if it was broken. It could have been a lot worse."


... Four Panthers worked out with strength and conditioning coach Jerry Simmons during both practices: offensive lineman C.J. Davis (ankle), safety Nate Salley (knee) and linebackers Thomas Davis (knee) and Landon Johnson (groin). Running back Jonathan Stewart (ankle) did not practice and was not working on the stationary bicycles in the morning, but was with the group during the evening practice ...

... Muhsin Muhammad continued on his one-practice-per-day schedule, doing conditioning work Friday night ...

... James Anderson returned from a hamstring injury that curtailed his Thursday work and returned to first-team work at weakside linebacker during the morning session ...

... Rookie linebacker Mortty Ivy strained his groin late in practice after picking up a Jamall Lee fumble and returning it approximately 40 yards near the end of the final team period of the morning session ...

... The highlight of the evening practice was a two-minute drill period that saw the offense given one minute, 40 seconds on the clock and possession at its 40-yard-line. The defense won the duel of first teams after Charles Godfrey intercepted a deep Jake Delhomme pass that sailed beyond intended receiver Dwayne Jarrett.

The No. 2 offense got the better of the second-team defense, with a touchdown pass from Josh McCown to Dante Rosario capping the 60-yard march. The third-team offense, which saw Hunter Cantwell taking his first turn of camp in two-minute work, couldn't gain a first down, with its possession ending on a Captain Munnerlyn interception ...

... The quarterbacks continued to rotate around through the teams, as Moore saw red-zone work with the second team Friday night after sitting out the two-minute period. Moore was the only quarterback to lead a touchdown drive during the previous endgame work, on Thursday afternoon ...

... Schedule change: The second practice next Wednesday (Aug. 19) was moved from 3:10 to 6:40 p.m. EDT. The morning session remains as previously scheduled, at 9:10 a.m. EDT.


10 a.m. EDT: The loudest cheer was for Jason Carter, who dove for a catch near the sideline. But on his next turn, C.J. Wilson jumped on him for the INT.

10:34 A.M. EDT: In a team red zone period ... highlighted by a nice TD catch by Muhammad (above) and a Dante Wesley INT that skipped off the hand of Sherrod Martin (below).

10:36 A.M. EDT: Sherrod Martin w/ the hit of the day so far, drilling Tony Fiammetta as a pass comes in. ... Now into another team period.

10:58 A.M. EDT: Practice wraps up for the morning.

(* By the way, try balancing a camera with a 70-200mm zoom lens, a Twitter-capable phone, a notepad, a backack and a pen ... all while remaining nimble enough to get out of the path of onrushing athletes averaging over 240 pounds apiece when they careen out of bounds at full speed. On second thought, don't try it.)

For more from practices and beyond, follow the Panthers' Twitter feed at Twitter.com/cpanthers.


Just one practice on Saturday; it begins at 3:10 p.m. EDT.