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Smith snags record


CHARLOTTE - When Steve Smith passed Muhsin Muhammad for most career receiving yards in Panthers history with a 53-yard reception down to the 1-yard line Sunday in Chicago, Smith went wild.

He wasn't celebrating the record; he was celebrating making another play that helped his team.

"I really don't play hoping that people will have good things to say about me; I just play," Smith said. "If I make a catch, I'm excited. Some people might say, 'Why does he do that every time? Can't he just catch the ball and go back to the huddle?'

"Honestly, I'm 32 years old, I'm five-foot-nine-and-three-fourths, 192 pounds. I'm not a prototypical wide receiver, so this is an honor and a privilege, and I enjoy it. I'm excited."

The catch gave Smith 9,304 yards, surpassing the 9,255 yards amassed by Muhammad from 1996-04 and 2008-09. Smith wasn't done, adding 110 more yards before the day was done to total 9,414 yards, the 40th-most in NFL history.

Muhammad and Smith are good friends, and Smith is still chasing Muhammad on a couple of fronts. Muhammad leads Smith on the Panthers' all-time reception list with 696 versus 644, and he leads Smith on the NFL receiving list, ranking 22nd with 11,438 yards. In addition to 11 seasons in Carolina, Muhammad played three seasons in Chicago.

Late last season, Smith passed Ricky Proehl on the NFL receiving list. Proehl, in his first season as an offensive consultant for the Panthers, ranks 52nd with 8,878 yards, including 1,327 with Carolina from 2003-05.


"Muhsin texts me here and there, and we get together a few times in the offseason. And getting the opportunity to get coached by Ricky, that's fun as well," Smith said. "One of my goals has been to be one of the best players ever in a Panther uniform, and statistically I can say that. But really, it's just one of those things you mark off of your to-do list.

"It's phenomenal, but it's also phenomenal to look at some of the players on that list prior to me even being here - not just on this team, but the guys who set the benchmark in the league. I think the most important thing is that a lot of guys that I've passed on that list, I've had the unbelievable pleasure of playing with. I think that's the most fun part."

Smith is having fun on the field again, ranking second in the NFL with 530 receiving yards – just 24 yards shy of his 2010 season total. Smith's 22.1 yards per reception leads the league among receivers averaging more than three catches a game.

Such numbers, however, aren't Smith's focus.

"You want to enjoy the feeling of winning," he said. "Stats are kind of a consolation prize."

That being said, Smith does enjoy holding the team record, and he plans to continue to enjoy every catch he makes as he moves closer to becoming the 35th player in NFL history to reach 10,000 receiving yards.

"It's great. Somebody is going to pass me, but it's nice to have temporarily," Smith said. "Act like I've been there before? I'm not going to do it. I'm going to act like it's my last play because you never know.

"I'm going to show enthusiasm. That's just me. If you don't like it, listen on the radio so you don't have to watch it."

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