Steve Smith of the Panthers made headlines with a flag-football injury. Below are thoughts on his injury; you can see how it compares to other minicamp injuries in this post.
Smith’s broken arm wasn’t a minicamp injury, but we’re including it because it happened during minicamp season. Smith broke his arm in late June playing flag football, and the injury will sideline him through training camp. Smith is due to return before the season opens, but his absence is disturbing on two fronts. First, the Panthers are trying to break in new starter Matt Moore and develop rookie Jimmy Clausen. Smith’s absence will force Moore and Clausen to emerge with a motley crew of receivers. And the Panthers’ lack of receiving talent is the other reason Smith’s injury is scary. Any setback, and Carolina will enter the season with guys like Dwayne Jarrett, Kenny Moore, and Brandon LaFell trying to perform at a starter level. That won’t work, and it would cause the Panthers’ top-flight running game to face eight-man or even nine-man fronts. Smith’s offseason flag-football jones could end up costing Carolina big.
And since it’s Fantasy Football Friday, we thought we’d add some fantasy thoughts on Smith. We’ve already omitted Smith from Tier 1 among receivers in this post, and now he becomes a bit more risky. Once training camp comes, fantasy owners will get a better sense of Smith’s recovery, and the good news about his injury is that bone breaks tend to heal cleanly. But now Smith falls to the top of Tier 3 as an upside play with some risk. His injury also keeps Moore (or whoever ends up starting in Carolina) from becoming even a deep-sleeper candidate at quarterback. And if Smith has a setback, we’ll have to reconsider our stances of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart and considermoving them down.