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Carolina Panthers

Smith's timetable still uncertain


SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Steve Smith knew exactly what the question was going to be.

As of Wednesday morning, moments after he checked out his accommodations for training camp at Wofford College, Smith didn't have anything close to a definitive answer.

"Right now I'm just working on what kind of toothpaste I'm going to get for Spartanburg," the wide receiver said when asked if he had a timetable for his return from the broken left arm he suffered more than five weeks ago. "I'm focusing on whether I'm going to Wal-Mart or Target."

What is known is that Smith, a four-time Pro Bowler, will be on the sideline rather than between the white lines when the Panthers hold their first practice Thursday morning at 9.

The timetable associated with the injury that he offered -- "all the analysts say it takes eight to 10 weeks," Smith said -- suggested that he might not take part in training camp at all.

Even if that proves to be the case, Smith's quarterback isn't sweating it.

"As long as he's ready to go Week 1, that's the most important thing. That's the thing we need to focus on," Matt Moore said. "Are we going to miss some time to work? Absolutely. That's nothing to worry about, I don't think.

"Steve has been here a long time; he knows what he's doing. He's a playmaker. He's one of the best of the league. It makes for an easy comeback."

Smith clearly is progressing from the injury, which he suffered the weekend of June 19-20 while playing flag football. He no longer sports a cast and felt well enough Wednesday to downplay the significance of the injury by poking a little fun at it.

"I can do a lot of things," Smith said when a reporter observed him texting with his left hand. "With the significance of the injury, I'm just lucky to be able to scratch my side and brush my teeth and stuff.

"I'm just fortunate to be able to be walking."

Smith plans to do more than brush his teeth while he's out of action. He'll brush up on his understanding of the offense with first-year wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert, and he also hopes to start getting back into peak physical condition.

"I can't help it; I have to be involved," Smith said. "I'll watch and stuff, and I've got my own stuff that I've got to do and work on. I've got to get fit. Since I broke my arm, I haven't had the opportunity really to lift weights or stuff like that.

"I've lost muscle mass. I was looking pretty good on the beach while I was in Europe, but it went quick. It's disappointing, really."

Smith's loss of camp reps could prove to be a valuable gain for the Panthers' other receivers, a group that certainly can use more time with Moore and the other quarterbacks.

While Smith has racked up 574 receptions for 8,330 yards and 50 touchdowns over nine standout seasons, fourth-year player Dwayne Jarrett ranks second on the roster with 33 catches for 388 yards and one touchdown.

"We've got some young guys, and they're going to benefit from this," Moore said. "It's up to them to realize the opportunity and to take it and run with it, to really work hard and get better with these reps that they're going to get."

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