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Strickly Panthers: Smith reaches 10,000

!CHARLOTTE - Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith did something Sunday that very few players have accomplished in the history of the NFL.

And he's not done yet.

"It will be pretty cool to sit back at some point when I'm done playing – maybe in about five years – and be happy about it," said Smith, who became the 35th player in league history to reach 10,000 receiving yards. "And when I have grandkids - a long time from now - I can say, 'Hey, grandpa played a little bit.'"

The accomplishment was bittersweet for Smith because it came in a 31-23 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, a game the Panthers led 23-7 at halftime.

"You never really learn anything from success, but you get lessons taught out of your mistakes and failures," Smith said. "Offensively, we didn't do things to help our defense (in the second half). We put them in extremely bad situations. We stalled on offense."

Smith rarely stalled out Sunday, catching six passes for 125 yards. He eclipsed the 10,000-yard mark with a 16-yard reception early in the second quarter, a feat that earned him a standing ovation when PantherVision flashed the accomplishment.

"I think it's great. It's fantastic," Panthers center Ryan Kalil said. "He's earned every bit of it. He works hard week in and week out, and it shows on Sundays."

Smith got nearly as big a response from the crowd when he made the type of catch that has allowed the 11-year-veteran to produce such numbers, fighting off cornerback Dunta Robinson for a 48-yard reception in the final four minutes that put Carolina in position to possibly tie the game.


"I got past him, and then Cam gave me an opportunity to go up there and catch the ball," Smith said. "Somehow, some way I came up with it. And got my feet down. And kept hold of the ball."

Newton was one of nine quarterbacks that Smith thanked after the game for throwing passes to him over his NFL career – a list that ran the gamut from Jake Delhomme to Brian St. Pierre. He also thanked receivers Isaac Byrd, Karl Hankton, Muhsin Muhammad, Ricky Proehl and Donald Hayes – all who took him under their wing and taught him how to be an NFL receiver.

"For myself, it's pretty cool," Smith said. "It is a lot of men and boys' dream, but very few men get an opportunity to live out their dream. I'm fortunate enough to have had the opportunity for about a decade to do it.

"It's been enjoyable; I've had fun."

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