Panthers not that focused on Smith

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Welcome to Steve Smith Week.

You're going to read and hear a lot about the Baltimore Ravens wide receiver over the next few days as he prepares for Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers.

Smith said shortly after being released by the Panthers in March it would be "blood and guts" when he faced the team that drafted him in 2001. After his 80-yard touchdown in the opener he screamed into a television camera, "Hey, if you [expletive] think I can't play, you're going to find out in Week 4, [expletive]."

On Sunday, after Baltimore improved to 2-1 with a victory over Cleveland, Smith tweeted a picture of a roaring lion with the words "TRY AND STOP ME" written across it.

On Tuesday, Smith made note about his new Twitter followers from Charlotte news media.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh told reporters in Baltimore on Monday that his advice to Smith would be to "Shock the world. Surprise everybody. Don't even say a word the whole game -- go into a shell."

Harbaugh also admitted Smith likely wouldn't take his advice.

That's one of the things the fans -- and media -- liked about Smith during his 13 years in Charlotte. He always spoke his mind.

Smith's words following a 12-7 loss to Seattle in last season's opener served as inspiration to a team that hadn't been to the playoffs since 2008.

"I think we're going to see them again deep in January," he said.

He was close. Carolina won the NFC South with a 12-4 record, but fell one win short of facing the Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game.

Fiery. Feisty. Moody. Productive.

Smith is as advertised.

At 35, he has given the Ravens a much-needed lift in terms of experience and production at wide receiver. He leads the team in receptions with 18 for 290 yards and a touchdown.

Whether you agree with me that the Panthers are better overall at receiver than they were a year ago, there's no arguing that Smith still can play at a high level.

Judging by his anger toward management after being released, he'll try to take it to another level against the team he hopes to retire for when he's finished playing.

One Carolina player recently suggested that the media back off the comments that infuriate Smith, reminding us that we don't have to cover the Panthers' all-time leading receiver.

But as focused as Smith may be on Carolina, the Panthers are focused on avoiding another embarrassment like the 37-19 loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday night.

"Steve's playing very well for them, but this is going to be the Carolina Panthers versus the Baltimore Ravens," Carolina coach Ron Rivera said Monday.

Ditto, said defensive coordinator Sean McDermott.

"I haven't watched any tape of Steve Smith yet," McDermott said.

The Panthers (2-1) don't need to watch film on Smith. They know what he can do after watching him amass 836 catches for 12,197 yards and 67 touchdowns for them.

They've seen him at his best, making plays such as the 69-yard touchdown catch to end a double-overtime playoff thriller at St. Louis during Carolina's 2003 run to the Super Bowl.

They've seen him at his worst, breaking teammate Ken Lucas' nose during a 2008 training camp fight.

"Steve is Steve," said cornerback/safety Charles Godfrey, who went head-to-head with Smith in practice the past six years. "Steve's a great player. He's done a lot of good things for this team. We understand Steve. Steve will be fired up for the game.

"But it's a game for us, and we'll be fired up, too."