Smith still holding himself accountable

CHARLOTTE – After the Panthers lost to the St. Louis Rams, wide receiver Steve Smith pinned responsibility for the offense's struggles on himself.

Wednesday, Smith pinned responsibility for getting it fixed in time for Sunday's visit by the New Orleans Saints on himself.

"Sunday, I was pretty down on myself, and I still take full responsibility," Smith said. "That's just the pressure that I put on myself, whether it's healthy or unhealthy.

"I believe I have an opportunity to energize this team and to help this team, and that's the approach I'm going to take. I've got a good feeling about it."

Smith caught a season-high nine passes for 85 yards against the Rams, but he lost a fumble in a crucial situation dropped a couple of passes.

"When I came across the middle and I was stumbling a little bit and the ball hit my facemask, man, that was horrible," Smith said. "I'm 5-9, but I probably felt about 3-foot-2. I wanted to crawl in a hole.

"A couple of years ago I would have been all mad, but now, you've just got to keep plugging away."

Smith, elected a captain by his teammates, appears to be making a concerted effort to be the leader he's been ordained to be. That hasn't always come easy for the strong-willed Smith, who said it's taken him all 10 of his NFL seasons to truly figure out that he should be playing for the greater good.

Smith said that's his charge for the rest of the season – beginning with the Saints.

"I've got nine more games to change – win or lose – how people see the Carolina Panthers and how we play," Smith said. "They say, 'Oh, they're laying down.' I don't believe we're laying down, but because we're not doing well and we're making mistakes, we're feeling sorry for ourselves, so people assume that.

"I think that's far from the truth, and I think Sunday is a great opportunity against the defending champs – against a good team -- to show that."

One week after the offense showed signs of breaking out in a 23-20 victory over the San Francisco 49ers, it reverted to its previous form against St. Louis with four turnovers and 201 yards in a 20-10 loss.

"It's good that last week is gone – not just for Steve but for everybody," quarterback Matt Moore said.

It is gone, but it's not going to be forgotten by Smith, who said the offense needs a total turnaround this week that should start with him.

"A successful person has never told me that they've learned so many things off their success," Smith said. "They've learned more off of their mistakes and shortcomings."

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