Steve Smith hurt his shoulder Monday night during practice at Panther training camp. And if that doesn't send a shudder through you, you're certainly not a Panther fan.
X-rays were negative, the Panthers said, which is good news. UPDATE: Smith said Tuesday that the injury occurred when he hit the ground and wouldn't project when he would be back, although several high-profile teammates opined that he would be ready for the regular-season opener. Smith's agent, Derrick Fox, said Tuesday morning that Smith would be out a minimum of two weeks.
If I were the Panthers, I'd shut Smith down for the entire month of August. No preseason games. No more contact work. Just meetings and non-contact workouts and stuff like that. That's it.
Imagining a 2009 Panther offense without Smith is difficult. Who would be the No.1 receiver then -- Muhsin Muhammad? And Dwayne Jarrett becomes a starter?! Wow. That would change things all right. Other teams would stack 8 on the line all day long, every day, daring the Panthers to just try and beat them deep.
Yes, Carolina went 2-0 without Smith last season while he was suspended for breaking Ken Lucas's nose in a training-camp skirmish. But you don't want to have to do that again if you can possibly help it.
Whether Smith is ready to go by Week 3-4 of the preseason or not, I wouldn't put him out there. For that matter, I wouldn't put DeAngelo Williams out there much, or Jake Delhomme, or Jonathan Stewart.
As my loyal readers may remember, I've campaigned for the preseason to be shortened from 4 to 2 games for years. Four games is a waste. And for veterans like Smith, it's really a waste -- just another chance to get hurt, really. So sit No.89 down and let him get welcomed back Sept.13 in the home opener vs. Philly -- nothing matters much until then, anyway.