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Monday, February 14, 2011

Rivera on Smith

Ron Rivera likes to talk.

He's no chatterbox, and he's no deceiver. But he talks to the media, unlike his predecessor, and he talks about things you want to know. He says it plainly, and without doubletalk. You can tell this guy's going to get a long leash with the media.

On Steve Smith, he addresses something neither the team nor the media have really said - that they're willing to shop Smith if he wants. Smith hasn't said anything - good, if he wants to actually have any trade value - but he's unhappy - again, good, I would be.

But it's highly unlikely the team wants to let him go. They just feel like it's time, if he's interested. Almost a 'now or never'.

Rivera seems to put a caveat to that "now" - wait until after minicamp.

That gives the team a chance to see if it fits with him - and it should, this is a more vertical offense than he's been used to. The end result is that the moody Smith, who had 46 receptions last year, has to bring in twice that, and obviously more than double the mediocre 554 yards and 2 TDs.

Coach Chudzinski could certainly use him - can't go vertical in this offense without an established deep threat, and can't use the under routes without pushing deep. Smith thrives on both when given the option. The ball will actually be thrown this year, and Smith would cease to be a 3rd option behind the 2nd TE and the 3rd RB, the two big 3rd down threats this year.

But while it seems like a good fit, it has to be a good fit for Carolina, too. If Smith takes this as an invitation for leverage or to get preferential treatment, that won't work. He has to be ready to work, and work hard. They want a leader there, and if Smith isn't dedicated to it he may not be the one deciding where he plays.
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