Posted by Will Brinson
Fiery Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith was reportedly yelling and screaming at Jimmy Clausen following Carolina's meltdown against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3, a loss fueled largely by Clausen repeatedly fumbling the ball, staring down receivers, and being unable to get Smith the rock.
Now, he claims that the reports that he was screaming at the rookie are silly and that the people reporting them are "jokes."
"It was said that I was just about to 'go off,' and I wasn't," Smith said after Wednesday's practice. "I thought it was interesting because here, I was obviously agitated and frustrated, but sometimes people think they know me better than I know myself. I think that's a joke, and I think the people that reported it are jokes."
Smith also added that Clausen did "as well as he could with the current situation" when asked about the rookie's debut.
And Clausen, for his part, also got the wide receiver's back when it came to discussing their sideline chatter against the Bengals.
"There really wasn't anything between me and Steve," Clausen said. "Like I told you after the game, it's just his competitiveness as a football player. He wants the ball. I think it's a good thing for your receivers to want the ball as much as they can get it."
Here's the order of events in Carolina with something like this: Steve Smith gets mad, Steve Smith does something aggressive in public, Steve Smith thinks people overreact about the thing he did when everyone sees it (note: we are right here in the scale of what Steve Smith does), teammate gets Steve Smith's back, Steve Smith finally realizes he did something a little wrong, Steve Smith apologizes.
Now, this situation is less serious since it's a rookie we're talking about, and Clausen doesn't really have much of a choice outside of playing along with whatever Smith wants; ignoring the only real receiving threat on the team as a young quarterback isn't precisely an intelligent move.
"I can't force anything," Clausen said. "I tried to force that one into him (Sunday), and it got intercepted. And that is what you get more times than making a completion. I have to be smart. Steve is a great player, and I want to get the ball to him as many times as I can, but I can't force it because it causes turnovers and interceptions."
And Smith might have a pretty good point about this being overblown; remember that there were rumors circulating early on during the offseason that Smith though Clausen was a "punk" and didn't particularly care for his attitude.
Whether that's true or not (Smith said it wasn't), it's going to remain the underlying stereotype for Clausen and Smith's relationship until they prove differently. Winning a game this season would probably help, too.
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