Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith was noticeably distraught during Sunday’s 20-7 loss to the Bengals, as he was seen shouting at rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen on the sidelines.
Perhaps it was his lack of chemistry with Clausen. Maybe it was because it was his first game without a touchdown this season. Or, maybe it was the interception Clausen threw in the end zone for which Smith was the target.
Either way, after just three catches for 22 yards, Smith is not happy.
“That’s just Steve,” said Clausen. “He’s a fiery guy… just being competitive and wanting the ball and trying to make plays.”
Clausen has yet to throw a touchdown in a Panthers uniform, as he was 21-of-42 with two interceptions in the preseason. So far, in the regular season, his numbers have not improved, as he is 23-of-48 with no touchdowns and two interceptions.
Smith, who helped Jake Delhomme lead the Panthers to the Super Bowl after the 2003 season, has shown signs of frustration in the past when he’s not involved in the offense or when the team is struggling.
“(Smith) is a real competitor, and those are the kind of guys you want on your team,” said Clausen. “He’s our biggest playmaker on offense. It’s tough sometimes getting him the ball when there’s two guys defending him.”
Head coach John Fox said it’s too early to name a starter for Week 4, but if the Panthers want to avoid starting 0-4, their quarterback will have to out-duel the Saints’ Drew Brees, who is coming off a disappointing two-interception performance of his own and a 27-24 overtime loss to the Falcons.
The Panthers and their quarterback-to-be-named travel to New Orleans for a 1 p.m. EDT kickoff Sunday.