Panthers WR Steve Smith didn’t talk to reporters here Wednesday, and tried to be polite when he was on a conference call with New England-area reporters.
Asked how he would analyze the Panthers passing game this year, Smith said: “I don’t know. If I say what I really want to say, I’ll probably get in trouble. I’ll just be honest.”
Smith has just 49 catches for 682 yards and four touchdowns this season, making it his most miserable year since he became a full-time offensive player.
So even though the Patriots secondary has struggled (Miami threw 53 times last week to beat them), Smith wasn’t taking that as a sign things were turning around for him.
“Um, not even close. Nope,” he replied when asked if he saw the opportunity for a big game. Asked why not, Smith said: “I just don’t think that will happen here.”
“Professionally, this is probably a down year for me,” he said. “Personally, I’ve learned a lot of things and steady learning every day. So you have … I hate that cliché, ‘You learn something every year.’ But it’s true. Honestly, there are moments where I do get discouraged and frustrated, but then there are moments where I go back and I think, ‘Oh, I did this and that.’ So that’s kind of how I treat it.
“It’s not too hard for me to say we are a running team first. That’s what we try to be. That’s what we are. We have two good running backs — three, four good running backs — and that’s what we do. But at the end of the day, run first or whatever you want to do, when we really need a big play downfield, in a hurry, they have to go to 89. So I don’t worry about it too much. I just keep coming back for some reason.”