CHARLOTTE - Quarterback Cam Newton recently joked that he treats the brims of his caps like old relationships, cutting them off and then discarding them.
Wide receiver Torrey Smith treats his old relationships, namely the one he still has with the franchise he won Super Bowl LII with, a little differently.
Smith was traded to the Panthers in the offseason for cornerback Daryl Worley. Smith was a solid contributor in his lone season with the Eagles, and some felt caught off-guard by the move. Smith himself saw it coming.
"I wasn't blindsided. That's one thing I can say. They were very upfront with me about the process with everything. I knew it could've went either way," Smith said Wednesday. "For me, I understand the business, it's no hard feelings. I can't wait to see everyone there."
One of the people on Smith's list will no doubt be his former head coach Doug Pederson, who spoke highly of the eight-year veteran during Wednesday's conference call.
"He helped us win a world championship, and I'm so grateful for what Torrey did and what he brought to this football team with his leadership ability," Pederson said. "He's a great leader. Great man, first of all. Good person and then what he brings to that football team.
"He brings explosiveness, he can still run, he can still get open and it's just a great addition for Carolina."
After joining a rapidly changing offense in Carolina under first-year coordinator Norv Turner, it was unclear what the 29-year-old's role would be. But, off the heels of his best game of the season – catching all five of his targets for 43 yards and a touchdown against Washington in Week 6 – Smith has begun reminding everyone that he can still be a difference-maker between the white lines.
And it couldn't have come at a better time with a road game versus the Eagles on the docket in Week 7.
This will be the first time Smith, a two-time Super Bowl champion, has faced his former team in the immediate season after winning a championship. Smith won a Super Bowl with the Ravens following the 2012 season, then played there another two years before signing with San Francisco in 2015. That season, the 49ers hosted and beat Baltimore 25-20 as Smith chipped in three catches for 96 yards and a touchdown.
Smith avoided the raucous fan base in Baltimore that year as a 49er, but this isn't the first time he'll be on the opposing sideline at Lincoln Financial Field (he visited as a Raven in 2012). After spending time there as friend and foe, Smith knows what the Philly defense and their fan base will bring Sunday.
"I know from both sides, playing in Philadelphia, how tough it is, how that crowd is and how good this defense is," Smith said.
The Eagles' defense has played in 2018 much like it did 2017: with an edge. Smith respects the challenge defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz's group will bring.
"They dealt with the injury bug a little bit in the secondary so they're kind of moving guys around, but that defensive line is very much still intact. Those guys are tough," Smith said. "No matter who they have back there, they communicate very well and they're well-coached."
Both Newton and quarterback Carson Wentz will present unique challenges for the defenses. It seemed like the Panthers would have an upper hand after picking Smith's brain about the season he spent with Wentz, but his take on his former QB sounded more like of a warning than a scouting report.
"Carson's like a magician. It doesn't matter if you know what he's going to do or not. He adapts pretty well," Smith shared. "He's a heck of a player, and I'm happy to see him back on the field, back healthy and doing what he loves."
Emotions aside, Smith understands that the Panthers' priority Sunday is winning on the road, something they have failed to do twice this season. He admitted he would at least allow a short trip down memory lane but he won't allow it to take his eyes off his new prize, even while looking at his "old" one.
"One thing I am looking forward to is that I can't wait to see the banner. Not going to lie. I'm the only one who hasn't been able to see it yet," Smith said. "So, after that, it's all business and it's important for us to win on the road.
"We're going to have our hands full, and we got to go out there and execute and try to play mistake-free football."
View the photos of the Panthers' week of practice leading up to their game against the Eagles.