A day after Baltimore coach John Harbaugh expressed confidence that new Ravens receiver Steve Smith can still get open deep, Smith's former coach didn't sound so sure. "He doesn't have the top-end speed like he used to, but he still has good speed," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Wednesday at the annual league meetings. Rivera spoke publicly for the first time about the release of Smith, the franchise's all-time receiving leader who was cut March 13 following 13 seasons in Carolina. Smith, who turns 35 in May, signed a three-year deal with the Ravens a day after the Panthers cut him. Rivera echoed general manager Dave Gettleman's comments from Tuesday when he said parting ways with Smith was a football decision. Smith saw his production fall off in 2013. His yards-per-catch average dropped nearly 5 yards to 11.6 yards per reception, his lowest average since 2007. In addition to mentioning Smith's decline in speed, Rivera also said several times he thinks Smith needs to tone down his approach to practice in order to get through a season healthy.
Ron Rivera questions Steve Smith's speed, ability to stay healthy
Charlotte Observer | Mar 26