CHARLOTTE — In case you had forgetten, Steve Smith Sr. has opinions.
Also, he’s a former wide receiver.
The Panthers legend didn’t hold back in his preseason game debut for the Panthers TV Network on Sunday, offering many of the kind of one-liners he’s become known for over the years.
From the big-picture topics to the minutiae of the game, it’s not hard to tell that he retains the wide receiver’s mentality.
Of a late personal foul call on a Colts defender, he said: “You know what that flag is for? Being stupid.”
— After Panthers wideout Brandon Zylstra was called for an illegal block penalty in the first quarter, Smith Sr. immediately blamed the call on the Colts cornerback embellishing the contact.
“The way he sold it, the daytime Emmy goes to the Colts,” Smith Sr. deadpanned.
— When rookie receiver Shi Smith came up with a late grab, Smith Sr. offered this bit of praise: “Great catch. This is a young man who, if he keeps his focus, he will be a dynamic football player. . . . Knows the hit is coming, protects himself — just like us Smiths do.”
Of course, Smith played in the NFL for 16 seasons, so he picked up a few things beyond the art of catching passes.
— He had some sharp words for the offensive line early, particularly after left tackle Trent Scott was flagged for a pair of false starts. But he wasn’t just ripping guys, he was trying to explain the whys instead of just the whats.
He mentioned that the first one came after the Colts got penetration on the previous play, saying: “These guys are nervous. Their get-off is faster than their feet.”
Scott generally plays on the right, but has filled in on the left (including four starts last year) and was pressed into service with so many linemen not suiting up Sunday.
— Smith spread the commentary around on both sides of the ball, getting on defensive end Marquis Haynes for not pushing through after he was flagged for jumping a snap.
“I love when you jump and then you almost act like ‘It’s not me,'” he said. “If you’re gonna go offsides, blow up the play. Don’t tiptoe.”
— Smith also thought quarterback Will Grier could stand to be more aggressive, mentioning how often he checks down in practice.
“I’m not being critical of him because I don’t think he can play,” Smith said. “I’m being critical of him because I think he has a heck of an arm and can bring a lot to the table. He just has to believe in himself.”
But mostly, Smith Sr. delivered the game as he saw it, unfiltered, as is his custom.
“We watched practice with the Colts,” he said of last week’s sessions. “They got, I don’t want to say pushed around, but they seemed to be a little bit polite. And the Colts weren’t.”
And neither was he.