Practice had ended Monday afternoon, but Panthers receiver Steve Smith remained.
Along with Wallace Wright and Legedu Naanee, Smith stayed after the workout to catch passes from rookie quarterback Cam Newton.
They ran short routes. They ran longer routes. They ran toward the Panthers' Thursday night exhibition in Cincinnati and beyond.
For Smith, the Bengals game will be his first action of the preseason after hurting his left hand two weeks ago. He had the stitches removed last weekend from the torn area between two fingers of his left hand and will wear a protective pad inside his receiving glove to help prevent a recurrence.
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Initially, Smith said, he was told he had a compound fracture in fingers on his left hand, which would have been a more severe injury. There was also talk about having to re-break his broken bones to properly set them.
"It was a little too much to be talking about," said Smith, who soon afterward learned the injury wasn't nearly so serious.
After missing several days of practice, Smith is back in the rhythm of the preseason, but not where he wants to be in terms of preparation.
"We're behind because of the lockout stuff," Smith said. "By now we'd have been doing a lot of different things. But because of the lockout stuff, we weren't able to. By now, our coaches would have coached us up on the little minor mistakes we're making. We'd have gotten that fixed. We'd be hitting the ground running."
Having missed the first two exhibitions, Smith is ready to be on the field again. Excited by the more aggressive scheme of offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, Smith has been busy learning the new terminology and routes.
After a decade of doing things one way, it's different.
"In training camp, we were installing 40-50 plays a day. That's a lot of plays, especially in a new system," Smith said. "That's a mouthful but that's just how it goes. You have to work through it.
"It's been good. I've been flash-carding it, going back to college, learning these routes and trying to figure out how to work it out. That's why after practice helps.
"We get to work through those things. It falls on the professional to put in the extra time beyond when the coaching staff is looking at you. You've got to put in that extra work to be great."
Smith called the Monday practice the Panthers' best of the preseason. He pointed to good performances by the receivers and quarterbacks as they work to put a disappointing offensive performance in a Friday night loss at Miami behind them.
With a greater emphasis on downfield passing than in recent years, Smith is encouraged by what the offense will be able to do. It sputtered in Miami, however, struggling to extend possessions and convert third downs.
Asked if that's to be expected with a rookie quarterback and a new system, Smith said otherwise.
"We hope not. We don't anticipate that will be the case but you'd rather have it early when it doesn't count than have it a time when it becomes a nuisance and we look as bad as we did," Smith said.
"You have to learn from your mistakes. Success doesn't come just once. You have to have a little failure and learn from it. I think it was a learning opportunity for the young guys, for myself, for everybody watching. It's something we've got to work through."