Carolina Panthers

Smith wants more passes from Carr

Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith and Colts defensive back Antoine Bethea fight for the ball during second-quarter action.
Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith and Colts defensive back Antoine Bethea fight for the ball during second-quarter action.

CHARLOTTE -- To call them conversations would be overstating the shared nature of the participation.

Because whether it was on the sidelines in the fourth quarter, or in front of his locker after the game, Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith was doing most of the talking, and quarterback David Carr was doing most of the listening.

It's not hard to imagine the problem, as Smith was once again held in check during the Carr-led portion of the Panthers' 31-7 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

The two passes for 18 yards he put on the stat sheet were courtesy starter Vinny Testaverde on the first drive of the game. After that, Smith was a double-covered decoy (though, mercifully, not a D.Coy, as former Panther Muhsin Muhammad protested on the back of his practice jersey when he felt unloved).

The lack of contribution is obviously a sore spot, though Smith didn't care to share his feelings afterward.

"What are you waiting on," he said to the few reporters who waited for him to finish showering. "I ain't talking."

When it was suggested he was being given his opportunity to tell his side, Smith shook his head: "I don't want no opportunity."

Smith's got plenty of reason to be frustrated. In the four games in which Carr's played, he's caught 10 passes for 89 yards and one touchdown. By contrast, Testaverde hit him 10 times for 136 yards and a touchdown in Arizona.

The lack of action from Carr has thrown Smith well off his goal of 2,000 receiving yards for the year (which he actually held pace for in the first two games), with 37 catches for 514 yards and six scores.

When he's on, he's one of the most dangerous receivers in the game. But for whatever reason, he and Carr haven't connected. It's understandable that a man so in tune with quarterback Jake Delhomme would take some time to adjust, but Carr's able to find everyone else, which had Smith in his ear.

"Just everything," Carr said when asked what they talked about. "He wants to win, I want to win, I'm trying to get him the football, and he's not necessarily concerned about himself getting the football, he just wants our team to get better. I just went up to him and said if there's anything I can do that you see from a wide-receiver position, that can make us a better team, then let me know.

"We've just got to talk, because we're too old to keep secrets form each other and stuff. And he's not like that at all. He'll tell you straight up. And that's why I respect him and we have these type of conversations.

"He's got ideas, he's been around this team, he knows what's going on. Whatever it takes, we've got to get better because we're going to be in this thing for another couple of weeks. We're still positive, we're still 4-3, we've got a chance to do some good things in the NFC. We've just got to do it."

Panthers coach John Fox said much of the reason for Smith's quiet afternoon had to do with the Colts' defensive scheme. Since they knew the Panthers had to throw the ball, they sat back with safety Bob Sanders over the top of whichever corner went his way, giving him few openings do to anything. In fact, Smith was only the intended receiver on one of Carr's 25 second-half attempts, though he looked his way before heading other directions more often.

"We were down too much. It's not our offense's fault. That's just the way they play, the way they win."

Several of Smith's offensive teammates were unaware of the talks he had with Carr, but those who have been around him for years know how hot he burns, and how deeply it affects him.

"He's a great player, and he just wants to win," running back DeShaun Foster said. "Any time you're in a situation where you're not winning, a competitor's going to be upset.