Steve Smith has produced just like Ron Rivera and the Carolina Panthers have expected to this season. But the head coach knows the team needs to find downfield targets besides Smith for the vertical passing game to be successful.
Going into today’s home game against Seattle, Smith is the only listed wide receiver to have more than one catch from quarterback Cam Newton in each of the past two games.
No. 2 wideout Brandon LaFell had only one grab against the Giants and Falcons combined.
“We’ve got to find ways, if teams are starting to roll toward Steve a little more, we’ve got to find ways to get him open,” said Rivera, whose team is 1-2.
“Secondly if we’re going to do some of the things we need to do, we have to expose other players to get ball in their hands. We’ve looked at other options. “
PACKERS: Have activated defensive end Mike Neal, who was suspended for the first four weeks of the season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
Neal was suspended March 13 after testing positive for the prescription drug Adderall.
He’d been prescribed the drug, used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy, by a doctor and didn’t realize it was on the NFL’s banned substance list.
JETS: Tight end Dustin Keller, wide receiver Stephen Hill, nose tackle Sione Po’uha and fullback John Conner are all doubtful for Monday’s game against Houston.
Linebacker Bryan Thomas didn’t practice Saturday because of a hamstring issue and is questionable, as are running back Joe McKnight (illness), safety Eric Smith (hip, knee), cornerback Aaron Berry (ribs) and linebacker Bart Scott (toe).