Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Sunday, August 3, 2008 5:19 pm

Punching out

Filed under: Panthers,Uncategorized — Lex @ 5:19 pm
Tags: , ,

So Panthers WR Steve Smith has been suspended for two regular-season games (presumably the first two, 9/7 at San Diego and 9/14 home at Chicago) for punching cornerback Ken Lucas.

Good. And bad.

Good in that, although details were a little hard to come by, it seems as if the punching took place not on the field in the heat of the moment but on the sidelines after the helmets had come off. In other words, there was an element of cold premeditation involved. I don’t care how many Pro Bowls you go to, that’s just not acceptable. It hurts the team, and — oh, by the way — in the real world it constitutes criminal assault. I suspect there may also be a fine involved, and perhaps even a personal audience with team owner Jerry Richardson that begins along the lines of, “Steve, do you want to play here or not?”

Bad in that, in a year on which many of the team’s jobs are riding, this team did not need this distraction. The level of punishment Smith received attests to just how bad this distraction — by which I mean Smith’s behavior, not anyone else’s — really was. I find it telling that, according to my colleague Ed Hardin’s account, Lucas was greeted as a hero in the team locker room on Saturday. Given the normal level of, well, animosity that often exists between offense and defense even on the same team, that suggests that even Smith’s colleagues on offense felt he had stepped over the line.

So good for the team for dealing with this swiftly and, I hope, even more severely than is now apparent. Now, the Panthers need to get their heads in the game. They’ve got depth problems on the D-line, a completely reshuffled O-line to break in and a secondary that needed a shakeout even before Lucas got his nose broken. In other words, their plates are full and Indianapolis is up on Saturday. This team has work to do to ensure that this season doesn’t blow up in their faces before it even starts.

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