Four more years! Four more years! That's the target for Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith, who turns 33 in May.
"I hope I can play four more years at a pretty decent level," Smith said this week in a phone interview with the Charlotte Observer. "I'm not the prototype receiver, so I'm kind of breaking the mold, anyway. ... I haven't really had any really bad injuries, except for (breaking) my forearm and my ankle. I take a pretty good pounding during the game -- many car wrecks -- and my body turns over pretty good."
Smith entered the 2011 season with very low expectations, and he understood why. He was in his 30s, coming off a season that saw him try to fight through injuries and awful quarterback play. Now he was been teamed with a rookie QB with a lot of accuracy concerns. But then Cam Newton became Cam Newton and Smith became a Pro Bowl WR for the fifth time. He finished sixth among wideouts in fantasy points. Yeah, age isn't on his side, but Smith and Newton have a tremendous rapport. He should be drafted as a low-end WR1 in 2012.