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Steve Smith Fumes, Panthers Shuffle Roster

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By Ted Fleming

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 06:  Wide receiver Steve Smith #89 of the Carolina Panthers watches from the sidelines during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 6, 2013 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Panthers 22-6.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Wide receiver Steve Smith #89 (Credit, Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Panthers are in a rut. They are 1-3 for the third year in a row and the chinks in the armor are beginning to show.

For one Steve Smith, taking responsibility for dropping a surefire touchdown pass paled in comparison to the rather pointed words he fired in the direction of a game referee the day after the game. Smith will forget the former but the latter? The NFL is sure to make him remember when they send him a letter informing him that a special deduction on his next paycheck is forthcoming.

“To be honest, I make enough money where if Roger [Goodell] wants to fine me he can. But I really think that referee probably was the sorriest referee that I have ever met,” Smith told reporters.

In that game the Panthers lost another player to injured reserve. Starting left guard Amini Silatolu tore his ACL and MCL and will miss the rest of the season. Geoff Hangartner was supposed to be the starter entering the season but was cut during camp and his replacement, rookie Edmund Kugbila, landed on the IR with a knee injury. Garry Williams was another season-long casualty with an ACL injury so it seems that being a guard in Carolina might be hazardous to one’s health.

On the roster front, linebacker Jon Beason was shipped off to the Meadowlands last week in a trade with the Giants. On Tuesday, wideout Armanti Edwards was waived, as was linebacker Ben Jacobs just days after he was signed to the 53 man roster.

The Panthers were supposed to be a better team based on the way they finished in 2012, but it hasn’t turned out the way most expected. A 0-2 start had editors pulling out the “Ron Rivera on the hot seat” headlines from the archives only to hit the delete button after a 38-point shutout win at home. Supposedly the head coach is safe for the rest of the year, but who knows what would happen if things begin to spiral out of control like it did last year before the late season turnaround.

Smith’s comments can only be viewed as a misdirection, to take the focus off Rivera and the Panthers woes. The roster shuffle is effectively cosmetic because no one move makes the team better or worse. However, with one key player after another going down with injuries, 2013 is beginning to shape up as another lost season.

In the next three weeks Carolina will face teams with a combined 3-10 record which is enough of a window to improve their lot before taking on the likes of Atlanta, San Francisco and New England. The Falcons may be floundering, but they are a divisional foe that is still very dangerous even at 1-4. Don’t expect them to be three games under when the Panthers face them in Week 9.

NOTES:

According to reports, Travelle Wharton is expected to become the starter at left guard and Panthers will reportedly promote undrafted rookie guard/center Brian Folkerts from the practice squad.

Recently released wideout Armanti Edwards played in 39 games since being drafted by the team in 2010 out of Appalachian State. The 25 year old Greenwood, South Carolina native had five career receptions for 121 yards and returned 36 punts for 253 yards and 15 kickoffs for 295 yards. He also rushed twice for 12 yards and completed two of three pass attempts for 11 yards and had played in every game the last three seasons.

The Panthers also signed wide receiver Toney Clemons to the practice squad and terminated wide receiver Cordell Roberson from the practice squad.

For more Carolina Panthers news and updates, visit Carolina Panthers Central.

Ted Fleming is a freelance writer covering all things Carolina Panthers. His work can be found on Examiner.com.

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