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September 05, 2006

Smith says he and Gamble will share punt returns

Coach John Fox won’t say who’s going to return punts, but Steve Smith will.

In a Tuesday evening interview on Sirius NFL Radio, Smith said he’ll share the job with cornerback Chris Gamble and the two will determine how many punts each will handle at their "own discretion."

Smith, bothered by a hamstring injury and an in-grown toenail in the preseason, said his physical status will play a role in determining the punt return ratio early in the season.

If he’s healthy, Smith said he and Gamble will take turns and much will depend on how the game is going. For instance, Smith said, if he’s catching a lot of passes and the offense has been on the field a lot, he’ll let Gamble return punts. On the flip side, Smith said he’d handle returns if Gamble had to cover a bunch of long routes on defense.

Smith handled most punt returns last season, but the Panthers want to lighten his load. They gave Efrem Hill an opportunity to win the job in the preseason, but he was released.

Posted by Observer Sports on September 5, 2006 at 09:07 PM | Permalink

Comments

I recall now that Jamaal Robertson did some of the punt returning last season and did not do an unsatisfactory job. Jamaal Robertson has also played some on special teams. Why was a rookie, Efrem Hill given the job when the experience factor was the rule?

Posted by: SE Williams | Sep 6, 2006 8:21:05 AM

Hill wasn't a rookie. Robertson returned kicks, not punts...

Posted by: Chris | Sep 6, 2006 8:26:26 AM

Pat didn't mention that in the same interview, Steve said that he will not be looking for a way around the NFL's new rules on celebrating. His reason? His 9 year old son and Steve's wanting to set a good example for him. He mentioned Marvin Harrison and his "been there, done that" attitude. How refreshing is it to hear a WR in the NFL take that stance. I'm proud that he's a Panther.

Posted by: Billy Mac | Sep 6, 2006 9:06:39 AM

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