Carolina Panthers

Back to the book for Smith

CHARLOTTE -- For Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith, everything's data.

Game scores, routes run, defender's tendencies, training camp practices.

So when he feels like he's in a rut, feels like he needs to be sharper, he goes to his notes.

When discussing how he tries to help snap the team out of losing streaks, Smith looked like a high school student -- digging in his locker for his black leather Pro Bowl backpack, producing a brown-covered spiral-bound notebook, the kind that costs about 50 cents at Target. In the simple pad, he transcribes daily goals, can refer to what he's seen on film that week, whatever might help.

"You get out of losing streaks the same way you get on winning streaks -- you work and you analyze what you're doing good and bad," Smith said. "You have to process everything. If you over-process when you're losing, and don't process anything when you're winning, you're doing yourself a disservice.

"I have to do that. It's about being successful. You don't keep stats, but you do keep data on what I did, what I need to do, you keep stuff organized, you watch film and do everything you're supposed to do. You do that win or lose."

Smith said he started keeping his notebooks in "late 2002." It's probably no coincidence that's around the time he was suspended for punching a teammate in the face, started anger management classes and began getting himself in order. Either way, since he started keeping them, he has a resource that taps into generations of receiving knowledge, starting with the tips he learned from Bear Bryant-era receivers coach Richard Williamson.

"I had the opportunity to watch Muhsin (Muhammad), the opportunity to watch Ricky Proehl, had the opportunity to watch Patrick Jeffers, Donald Hayes," Smith said of former teammates. "I tried to take a little bit of information from everybody. That's how you get stuff like that (patting the notebook): No matter what book you open, if it's got my name on it, it all looks the same.

"That's the part I try to emphasize to the young guys, and whether they get it or not, time will tell. Not calling anybody out, but I don't know. It's their first go round, and everybody digests information differently. I know the best way for me is by writing it down. ... No coach can tell me how to do my job unless I'm willing to know what they're talking about. If I don't know what I'm talking about, I do myself a disservice."