It’s hard to imagine that Carolina Panthers receiver Steve Smith remains a rather speedy deep threat at age 34.
The Panthers’ unquestioned No. 1 target has catalyzed the development of quarterback Cam Newton but has yet to see any great complements in the receiving corps. Brandon LaFell has made some strides over the course of the past year and could very well end up a solid No. 2, but that’s about it for the past half-decade or so.
However, year three under Newton and Coach Ron Rivera could see some hidden gems emerge to fill out the position with quality depth.
“This is the most competition I’ve seen and it’s real, legitimate competition,” Smith said, via The Associated Press, about the battle on the wide receiver depth chart that will continue on July 25 at training camp in Spartanburg, S.C. “The first day I walked into the receivers’ room I could feel the thickness in there.
“It’s kind of this uneasy feeling. You could feel the competition. You could feel the seriousness. No one was loose. … There is an open competition at the receiver and DB (defensive back) spots,” Smith said. “One thing I’m going to do this summer is sit back and watch those 1-on-1 drills because they’re going to be intense. It should be cool to watch.”
The level of competition and heat of battle between teammates might make Smith uneasy — after all he hasn’t had the slightest bit for his No. 1 role in ages, has had that all locked down — but Smith surely hopes the gems this pressure could produce will draw defensive attention away from him has he rides out the latter years of his career.