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Ron Rivera says Steve Smith’s slowing down, wearing down

Ron Rivera, Steve Smith AP

Now that the firestorm regarding the release of the best player in franchise history has died down a bit, the Panthers can get about the business of justifying the release of the best player in franchise history.

Speaking at the NFC coaches breakfast at the owners meetings this morning, Panthers coach Ron Rivera suggested that age has caused Steve Smith to lose a step, and his practice habits might lead him to miss more time as he ages.

He doesn’t have the top-end speed like he used to, but he still has good speed,” Rivera said, via Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer.

That sound you hear is Smith hitting “print” right now, so he can tack this on his personal bulletin board in anticipation of the “blood and guts” game the Ravens play against the Panthers this year. Smith has always used perceived slights as motivation, even if he had to invent them. This just makes it easier for him.

Rivera stood firmly by the Panthers line that the decision was a football call, which seems odd considering they’re replacing him with a cast of TBAs and Jerricho Cotchery.

Rivera also said Smith should consider easing up a bit on practice to stay healthy. Of course, Smith has always flung himself at every workout, and other than missing a season with a broken leg, he missed only 11 games in his other 12 seasons with the Panthers.

“Steve will still find ways to make plays,” Rivera said. “And as far as football decisions go, we have to move on eventually. This was an opportunity to do it.”

There’s no good way for the Panthers to have made a decision like this one, but suggesting it was something other than what it was — a way to get a perceived bad influence out of the locker room away from young receivers and an emerging quarterback — insults our intelligence and Smith’s legacy.

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55 Responses to “Ron Rivera says Steve Smith’s slowing down, wearing down”
  1. jtbsteeler says: Mar 26, 2014 9:55 AM

    Haha.

  2. barsfordays says: Mar 26, 2014 9:57 AM

    Only the Panthers would replace an unreplaceable veteran WR with another veteran WR. Expect, one is Steve Smith and the other is Jericho Cotchery….

  3. blacknole08 says: Mar 26, 2014 10:01 AM

    Ugh… we will miss his leadership more than his speed.

    This is just more bulletin board material for Smitty. A guy like him won’t let someone disrespect him and not pay for running their mouth.

  4. rlessane says: Mar 26, 2014 10:01 AM

    They cut him already move on Ron. Ever hear of “Let sleeping dogs lie”

  5. MostOfYouWouldScoreWorseThanJamarcusOnTheWonderlic says: Mar 26, 2014 10:01 AM

    Any time Steve Smith gets brought up, all I can envision is him and Muhsin Muhammed on the sideline in the Super Bowl, talking smack during a mock “interview” about how the Patriots couldnt handle players of their caliber. Aside from the fact that Shannon Sharpe already coined that routine, they probably should have followed Sharpe’s lead and waited until they were up by 31 points before performing there shenanigans…

  6. thebirdsareback says: Mar 26, 2014 10:01 AM

    Ravens Win

  7. brownmud says: Mar 26, 2014 10:04 AM

    Going to be good tv when Steve “accidently” runs out of bounds and lays out Rivera.

  8. doctorrustbelt says: Mar 26, 2014 10:08 AM

    Actually… ravens are beaten and are knocked out of playoff contention by Andy Dalton and the AFC North Champion Cincinnati Bengals.

  9. whiteknightblackheart says: Mar 26, 2014 10:09 AM

    I like Cotch more than most; he was a great Jet when he was in NY, but he is not Steve Smith.

  10. bucrightoff says: Mar 26, 2014 10:09 AM

    Yeah, cause Jerricho Cotchery is speeding up and his health is improving….

  11. youplayinfoosball says: Mar 26, 2014 10:11 AM

    Fuel DAT fire Ronny

  12. thestrategyexpert says: Mar 26, 2014 10:13 AM

    Ron Rivera is getting kind of old and I doubt his mind is as quick as it was when he was a young man. Maybe they should invoke another opportunity. Keep in mind that I was one of the people who voted against giving Rivera an extension. And I also voted to fire Gettleman. Steve Smith should be here on this team before either of those guys should.

  13. shaggytoodle says: Mar 26, 2014 10:14 AM

    He probably was losing a step, but its Steve Smith, the guy that for over a decade gave the Panthers all he could, even though they never found a reasonable 2 WR to play across for him.

    He still made a huge impact. I know all things must come to an end, but if your going to replace Smith, you need someone that can be AS good or better than he was in 2 or 3 years.

    That guy is not on the roster at the moment. So best of luck trying to replace him.

  14. ravenswhat says: Mar 26, 2014 10:16 AM

    Thank you for this Ron. We love you in Baltimore for providing a fierce and prideful competitor with even more motivation this season. You can’t buy motivation like this.

  15. smalltownqb says: Mar 26, 2014 10:16 AM

    I love my Panthers but the way this off-season is going I do not think the Ravens are even going to need to throw the ball that much to secure the win.

  16. wisconsinhillfolk says: Mar 26, 2014 10:21 AM

    This is why Belichick responds but says nothing.

  17. tennesseeoilers says: Mar 26, 2014 10:21 AM

    This is the first classless thing I’ve seen Ron Rivera do … Not everybody can be Joe Gibbs I guess …

  18. humptyfratz says: Mar 26, 2014 10:26 AM

    “Ice up, coach. Ice up.”

  19. junkmtb says: Mar 26, 2014 10:27 AM

    Yeah I agree its time to move on from all of this, that Smith ship as sailed the Bmore. They need to worry about who the #1 WR will be!

  20. sandersmarcus10 says: Mar 26, 2014 10:27 AM

    But you replace him with another old slow guy, smh

  21. Future HOF 20xx says: Mar 26, 2014 10:28 AM

    Glad he’s not my coach. You should take the high road coach, not this one.

  22. aldavis4president says: Mar 26, 2014 10:34 AM

    How is it possible that After 12 years of being with the panthers, they never got him a a decent #2. I’m sorry but lafell is average at best. GET EM SMITTY!!

  23. uglydingo says: Mar 26, 2014 10:34 AM

    You don’t treat the greatest player in the history of the Carolina Panthers with such disrespect. Smitty has been the face of the franchise who has consistently excelled.
    Steve Smith will be remembered for his contribution to the team much more than Ron Rivera and Dave Gettleman.

  24. beachsidejames says: Mar 26, 2014 10:35 AM

    cotchery instead of smith…..I’d stay with smith

  25. jrob23 says: Mar 26, 2014 10:37 AM

    I can only imagine how good his numbers would have been if he had a half decent QB to throw to him during his career. Flacco will actually be a slight improvement in that dept. so he will miraculously find his ‘lost’ speed and make the pro bowl again

  26. ialwayswantedtobeabanker says: Mar 26, 2014 10:44 AM

    That was classless of Rivera to publicly denigrate Steve Smith.

    There was really no good reason for Rivera to bash Smith — the guy has a tiny window left in his career, and Rivera took it upon himself to belittle his performance/production.

    Not cool.

  27. 1oldpro says: Mar 26, 2014 10:45 AM

    Isn’t this the kind of thing that coaches shouldn’t say in public?

  28. skiss68 says: Mar 26, 2014 10:50 AM

    Well that is sure to piss off the little Napoleon.

  29. steelcurtainn says: Mar 26, 2014 10:50 AM

    Polamalu and Cortez Allen will be asleep during the game while covering this guy. Age has caught up with him. He’ll be a non-factor for the ravens.

  30. tvjules says: Mar 26, 2014 10:53 AM

    Thanks Ron, for making sure Steve Smith has his best game against you.

  31. qdog112 says: Mar 26, 2014 10:58 AM

    As a Panthers fan, I can almost see Gettleman behind Rivera with a cattle prod, on the ready to have Ron get the rehearsed lines correct on Steve.

    I’m embarrassed for Ron to have to put out such garbage. Everyone knows that Rivera had no issues with Smith and that the conflict is between Gettleman and Smith. You don’t pay the best WR on your team $5 million to walk away, due to his diminishing skills and disparage his character on the way out, by calling him a distraction.

    David Gettleman is the one who should have been before the cameras to explain, but he’s still in hiding. Florio should have sought out ole Dave to get the word from him.

  32. chad504boy says: Mar 26, 2014 11:00 AM

    Ron should worry about Cam Newton’s top end speed with his ankle issues.

  33. chalkruz1989 says: Mar 26, 2014 11:00 AM

    Mr. Rivera must not have listened to his Mother. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

  34. drsummeroff says: Mar 26, 2014 11:01 AM

    Now Cam gets to endure the ‘Sam Bradford’ experience of tossing footballs to an assortment of non-descript scrubs who may or may not hang onto the football. Hope Cam can still run.

  35. youplayinfoosball says: Mar 26, 2014 11:08 AM

    Carolina must see someone they really really like in the 2015 draft. Half their o-line retired, most of the starting secondary gone, and one WR I can name. Not a panthers hater at all but I think they may be gunning for that first pick

  36. accipiterq says: Mar 26, 2014 11:24 AM

    How was a guy that throws himself into practices that hard a bad influence in the locker-room?

  37. theclink12 says: Mar 26, 2014 11:25 AM

    What a classless and idiotic thing for Rivera to say. If there is one guy in the league you don’t want to question it is Steve Smith. Dude is a warrior and Rivera has no clue just how much Carolina is going to miss him.

    As I have said on here before…the NFL is a better place with Steve Smith in it.

    “Ice up, son”

  38. depotnator says: Mar 26, 2014 11:30 AM

    Ron Rivera has forgotten more about football than this writer has ever known.

  39. thegreatsantini56 says: Mar 26, 2014 11:35 AM

    Let me see if I understand this: Smitty was a bad influence on younger players because he practices too hard? That is the way this article came across to me. Now that it has happened, move on and find a player who will be half as clutch as Smitty. And remember, go easy in practice and turn it on at game time.

  40. goldrush36 says: Mar 26, 2014 11:48 AM

    Riverboat Ron better watch his six. Smith is not what he used to be, but he was doubtful to even play in the divisional rd but he went out and played like a beast.

  41. hotep999 says: Mar 26, 2014 11:50 AM

    “Rivera also said Smith should consider easing up a bit on practice to stay healthy. ”

    What a coach.

  42. shinedown37 says: Mar 26, 2014 12:00 PM

    Can’t wait to see Steve Smith score against the Panthers, I’m sure his speed will kill one of there defenders.

  43. ravensterpsarmystrong says: Mar 26, 2014 12:03 PM

    Too funny! Whatever happened to, “You practice how you play?” Welcome to B-more Steve! We’ll enjoy your beast mode mentality!! “Play Like a Raven”!

  44. flannlv says: Mar 26, 2014 12:05 PM

    As a long time, life long Saints fan, before the bags, Smith is one of the players opposing team’s fans hate. However, you have to respect him. Total competitor.

  45. bighomiemathews24 says: Mar 26, 2014 12:05 PM

    This dude just placed a brick on steve Smith’s shoulder !

  46. billsfan1 says: Mar 26, 2014 12:14 PM

    I would have to think that even if he has lost a step, he is still faster than the 0 guys they replaced him with

  47. shayeezy says: Mar 26, 2014 12:17 PM

    i live in north carolina, but it’s moments like this i’m thankful i’m not a panthers fan. i know he’s obligated to answer these questions, but this is one time when coach-speak would have been vastly better than criticizing the player and his work ethic.

  48. bighomiemathews24 says: Mar 26, 2014 12:19 PM

    Soo is your wife ron

  49. joerevs300 says: Mar 26, 2014 12:27 PM

    Suddenly, Ravens/Panthers just took on a whole other level of intrigue.

  50. joemammy says: Mar 26, 2014 12:35 PM

    I hope S. Smith enjoys jump-balls, in traffic.

  51. steelcurtainn says: Mar 26, 2014 12:39 PM

    Rivera is just telling it like it is.

  52. motsuret06 says: Mar 26, 2014 1:07 PM

    This is one of the most lame excuses for releasing the best player in franchise to this point in time. We can see here than Riverboat Ron is a “company man” and tows the company line. The real culprit here is his boss…Gettleman. There will be hell to pay when Smith plays the Panthers next season. Smith has taken the high road and I give him a lot more credit than Gettleman and Rivera. He wants to retire a Carolina Panther. This is scornful and the Panthers will see whether their evaluation of Smith is correct. This was a low class/no class move by the Panthers organization.

  53. teek77 says: Mar 26, 2014 1:28 PM

    As a Panther fan, I truly hated to see Smitty go. I worried that the other teams would be confused, not knowing who to double-team or put their shutdown corner on. But, it’s sorta like having to put your ole dog to sleep. You don’t want to do it but you know it is for the best. It’s got to happen eventually. The problem is, instead of getting another dog, the Panthers have decided to raise ducks and turtles when they really need a fast grayhound or a dependable retriever. Time will tell.

  54. goodguyattorney says: Mar 26, 2014 1:58 PM

    I live in Charlotte and am a Panthers fan. I also hate the Ravens. That’s just the way it is. But it’s going to be hard not to pull for the Ravens when they host Carolina – that’s just the way it’s gonna be.

  55. soundslikeatypicalbastard says: Mar 26, 2014 7:26 PM

    Can’t wait to see what Steve Smith has to say in response to this.

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