CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith insisted he wasn't taking a shot at former teammate Cam Newton when he said it was refreshing to be around a quarterback who was calm during Sunday's 23-21 win over Cleveland.
The Carolina Panthers quarterback said the comment by Smith wasn't taken as a shot.
Newton went out of his way to dispel any speculation that his relationship with Smith was part of why the Panthers (2-1) let their all-time leading receiver go in March.
"My thing is, no matter what the media may say, that does not dictate how the actual relationship may be,'' Newton said Wednesday as the Panthers prepared to face Smith and the Ravens on Sunday in Baltimore.
"I can tell you that me and Steve have a healthy relationship. I'm rooting for him, except for this particular Sunday. That's all in the competitive love. I wish him the best.''
Smith said his comments about Joe Flacco were made because he didn't expect the Ravens quarterback to be so calm after a rocky first half by the offense. He was expecting some sort of speech or lecture, indicating that's what he's heard in those situations in the past.
"What I meant by it?'' Smith said. "I don't know if you know, but Flacco is the same all the time. We were talking about when he signed his big deal. They said he stopped at McDonald's after signing his contract and went home.
"I mean, who does that? If I signed a $100 million contract, going to McDonald's would not be the first place I'd go. ... When he came in [to start the second half], he was the same guy. So that was refreshing, because I also was part of the reason why we weren't playing very well.''
Smith holds Carolina's all-time record in receptions (836), yards (12,197) and touchdown catches (67). At 35, he's leading the Ravens with 18 catches for 290 yards and a touchdown.
While Smith admits he didn't like waking up one day and being "fired'' from the team that drafted him in the third round of the 2001 draft, he insisted he's moved on. He wouldn't get into why he was let go any more than Carolina coach Ron Rivera would.
"For every man that tries to earn a living, despite the amount of money, you always try to go to work always trying to give them more than they pay you,'' Smith said. "Nobody walks out of their job and says, 'Yeah! I just got fired.'
"So whether it was an explanation I accepted or not, at the end of the day there are reasons why I was let go and it doesn't matter moving forward because I'm in a place now where I get to still play. I'm playing pretty good."
"To be honest, I knew a long time ago [about being cut]," Smith said. "I knew when I had my meeting with [Panthers general manager Dave] Gettleman what was going to happen, and that's what happened. I walked out of there with dignity, and I held my head up high. ... [My family] didn't see me, I shed a few tears. And then we got back up, dusted ourselves off and we said, 'What is the plan for the Smith family' and we moved forward."
Smith said his focus on Sunday will be the same as it is for every game. He also admitted "it's not any other game.''
"I never really imagined I would be in a different uniform,'' Smith said. "I never thought that I would be playing against the Panthers and now I am.''
Smith said he still "misses everything about Carolina.'' He reminded that his family still resides in Charlotte and that he was here on Sunday night and Monday. He reminded that he still stays in close communication with many of the Carolina players.
Newton said part of the "chip'' that Smith always played with has rubbed off on him.
"That every-day chip-on-his-shoulder attitude,'' Newton said when asked what he remembered most about playing with Smith. "I don't even know if there is a word to describe it. Anybody who has ever followed the Carolina Panthers knows what I'm talking about.
"That's what I expect on Sunday.''
Smith said he doesn't need extra motivation to play.
"You guys know me,'' he said. "You think you know me better than myself. I love playing ball. Anytime I get to play ball I am going to take advantage of it."
ESPN.com Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley contributed to this report.