Steve Smith right to lecture Cam Newton

Carolina receiver Steve Smith said he “lit into’’ quarterback Cam Newton for sulking on the sideline after he was removed from Thursday night’s loss to the New York Giants.

In the past, Smith lighting into teammates has not always been a good thing. At times, he’s had physical altercations with teammates.

But this situation was different on many levels. In this case, there’s nothing wrong with Smith getting a little vocal with Newton. The quarterback looks up to the receiver, and that’s a good thing. Smith was simply pointing out to Newton that he should still be taking mental reps, even though he was out of the game.

Smith never has been perfect, but no one ever has questioned his desire and competitiveness. At this point in his career, there’s no question that Smith has grown into a leadership role.

Someone had to tell Newton that sulking wasn’t going to be productive for him or his team. It might as well have been Smith.

If Newton is going to listen to any of his teammates, it probably is going to be Smith.