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WR drops grudge against team

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Steve Smith did his best Friday to keep the peace, dropping the grudge he held against the Carolina Panthers over contract negotiations.

Smith believed the Panthers called him a "marginal receiver"
in explaining why signing him to a long-term extension would have
to wait until after a deal with defensive tackle Kris Jenkins was
completed.

Smith called the comment "a spit in my face" in a brief tirade
Thursday. Derrick Fox, his agent, later said the Panthers actually
called him "unproven."

Smith just wanted to drop the whole thing by Friday.

"I shouldn't have said anything," Smith said as he left the
practice field. "I shouldn't have made it personal. This game
isn't personal. I should have just kept my mouth closed."

Smith, who leads the team in catches (12) and yards receiving
(118) this season, is due to become a restricted free agent at the
end of the year.

Things had been moving along quite well for the Panthers, until
now.

While building a 3-0 start to the season, management had also
settled long-running contract negotiations with punter Todd
Sauerbrun
and signed Jenkins to a five-year, $31 million extension
this week.

Then Smith rocked the boat before Sunday's NFC South game
against the New Orleans Saints.

But Smith said he didn't think he had created a distraction for
the team.

"It won't become a distraction because it's over and done
with," he said. "Yesterday was yesterday, that's the best part.
Today's a new day."

The Panthers did not comment Friday on Smith, who went to the
Pro Bowl his rookie year as a kick returner and led Carolina with
872 yards receiving last season.

They have shown commitment to him in the past, not cutting him
despite public pressure to do so after he beat up a teammate in a
film session last year. Instead, Smith was suspended for one game
and sought help controlling his temper.