Carolina’s Steve Smith Returns to Practice
The Carolina Panthers have their number one receiver back in time for the 2012 NFL season. Steve Smith has officially returned to Panthers’ practice after missing 10 days with a left foot infection. His return to the practice field on Sunday suggests he’ll either be listed as probable for game day against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, or that the team possibly won’t list him at all.
This is excellent news for a young Carolina team that hopes to get 2012 started off with a bang against an equally young Buccaneers squad. Having a veteran presence there to rely on for the first game that counts will help second-year quarterback Cam Newton rest a little easier, while it certainly can’t hurt the rest of the offense, either.
Smith’s infection was originally thought to be of the staph variety, but it was reported earlier in the week that it wasn’t, making his prospects to return in time for the first game of the year a lot brighter. Obviously, things look to be working out just fine.
The 33-year old star wide receiver looks to add on to his rebirth year of sorts, after exploding back onto the scene as one of the league’s most efficient deep threats. Smith totaled an impressive 1,394 receiving yards and seven scores off of just 78 grabs in 2011, and did so with a rookie quarterback in Newton under center.
Smith stands the risk of being a little off (rusty) with a 10-day lay-off, but he has an entire week to gear up for Carolina’s first real game. It’s worth noting that Smith did not fare well in his two battles with the Buccaneers’ secondary in 2011, however, as he actually only managed to total three catches for 41 yards.
Regardless, Smith’s presence as a starter on the field means all of Carolina’s main offensive weapons will be 100% and prepared to try to start the 2012 season 1-0.