An angry star, a struggling rookie highlight Panthers' receiving woes Print
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Wednesday, 31 October 2007 12:56
NFL Headline News

 CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -Carolina Panthers rookie Dwayne Jarrett was at his locker Wednesday answering questions about his frustrating season when teammate Steve Smith walked by and interrupted him.
``Instead of talking to the media, why don't you go watch some film,'' Smith said.
Jarrett broke into a half smile and started talking again.
``Seriously,'' Smith said, complete with his signature glare.
Smith is angry at not getting the ball, while Jarrett can't learn enough of the playbook to be among the active players on gameday to lessen Smith's load. And as the Panthers struggle with the 26th-rated passing offense, Keyshawn Johnson is wearing expensive suits as a TV talking head.
It's clear things haven't worked the way the Panthers hoped at receiver following two big offseason moves designed to open up things for Smith.
A three-time Pro Bowl pick, Smith has decent numbers with 37 catches for 514 yards and six touchdowns. But he's been quiet in four of seven games while being the constant focus of opposing defenses.
Smith was held to two catches for 18 yards in Sunday's loss to Indianapolis, when the Colts moved a safety toward Smith on nearly every play to provide double coverage.
``I think it's combination of a lot of things,'' quarterback David Carr said. ``It's Steve doing his part, me being healthy so I can get the ball to him and the offensive coordinator putting him in position.''
And while a lot of Carolina's passing problems can be attributed to the inconsistency with quarterbacks Jake Delhomme, Carr and Vinny Testaverde all suffering injuries, things would be much easier if the Panthers had a serious threat opposite Smith.
They thought Jarrett would be that guy. Three days after they took the 6-foot-4 possession receiver from Southern California in the second round of the draft, the Panthers released the soon-to-be 35-year-old Johnson, who later took a job at ESPN.
But not only did Keary Colbert win the starting job, Jarrett can't even get a uniform on gameday. Because he's struggled to learn the offense and doesn't play special teams, Jarrett has been inactive in all but one game.
Jarrett, who set a Pac-10 record with 41 touchdown catches in only three college seasons, has one catch for 6 yards.
``The biggest thing for Dwayne is just coming from the offense he was at with USC, they didn't ask him to do a whole lot,'' Carr said. ``When you come here and you're trying to break into the top group, you've got to know everything. You've got to know everyone's position.''
Jarrett insisted Wednesday he's been slowly grasping the offense.
``I'm a rookie and I have players in front of me, including Steve and other players,'' said Jarrett, who turned 21 in September. ``I'm just learning from those guys every day and trying to take what I can.''
With Jarrett spending most Sundays in street clothes, Colbert and Drew Carter have split time at receiver. They've combined for 32 catches, but also a number of drops.
Meanwhile, the frustration mounts for the heavily covered Smith. He was seen screaming at offensive coaches on a sideline telephone during the loss to Tampa Bay in Week 4. He was seen yelling at Carr on the sideline late in the fourth quarter of the Colts loss.
Carr, who will likely start Sunday at Tennessee with Testaverde nursing a sore Achilles' tendon, has tried to quell the tension with Smith.
``Steve, he definitely has his opinions on things,'' Carr said. ``How do you not trust the guy when he comes to you the way he does? He's very aggressive, but he's not coming at you with disrespect. He's never that way. We've been close friends since I got here. But at the same time, he knows what he wants to get done and I'm right on the same page with him.''
It would help if Jarrett would learn enough of the playbook to contribute.
``Like anything, the more you do it, the better you get,'' coach John Fox said. ``I'll remind everybody, he is a rookie and he's working his way through it.''
 

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