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Carolina Panthers sign free agent defensive back; will face Jets, Tebow in preseason

The Carolina Panthers have signed free-agent safety Reggie Smith to bolster their defensive secondary depth and give a potential boost to their special teams.

Smith played the last four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, who took him in the third round of the 2008 NFL draft out of Oklahoma. Smith (6-foot-1, 200 pounds) also played on San Francisco’s special teams, which has been an area of concern for Carolina.

“Reggie has been on our radar since the beginning of free agency and is a player we think can come in and compete at safety,” said Carolina general manager Marty Hurney in a statement. “We brought him in for a visit Tuesday and it worked out. He is another player we’ve added to increase the competition.”

Smith played in all 18 games for San Francisco last season (including two playoff games) and had 16 tackles and one interception in the regular season. Smith had six special teams tackles in the regular season and two in the playoffs.

Smith played 44 games for the 49ers and had seven starts, with 54 tackles, two interceptions and seven passes defended. Those seven starts came in 2010, when he had 37 tackles and had one interception. He also had 14 special-teams tackles that season. David Scott

Panthers at Jets: The NFL preseason schedule was just announced for every NFL team and included was a whopper of a game for the Carolina Panthers, who play on the road against the New York Jets on Sunday, Aug. 26 at 8 p.m. on NBC.

Yes, national TV, and Cam Newton vs. Tim Tebow. The two were briefly teammates at Florida, remember, where Newton was a mostly unknown backup and Tebow was the Heisman Trophy winner. Newton would later transfer to Auburn and win his own Heisman, and now Tebow has been traded to the New York Jets to back up Mark Sanchez.

The cool thing about this game is it’s the third one on the schedule, traditionally the exhibition game in which teams play their starters the most. So we’ll see a lot of Cam and a fair amount of Tebow, although Sanchez is still clearly the Jets’ starter (for now).

Of the Panthers’ four preseason games – and the regular season schedule has not been announced yet – only the Jets one has a specific day and time. The rest will officially be announced later. The full Panther preseason schedule is:

HOUSTON AT CAROLINA – Somewhere from Aug. 9-13 ... The Texans defense will give the Panthers’ offense a good early test.

MIAMI AT CAROLINA – Somewhere from Aug. 16-20 …

CAROLINA AT N.Y. JETS – Sunday, Aug. 26, 8 p.m., NBC national telecast

CAROLINA AT PITTSBURGH – Either Aug. 29 or Aug. 30 (likely the 30th to give the Panthers a little more turnaround time) Scott Fowler