Here's what we know about the injury to Carolina Panthers receiver Steve Smith: Over the weekend, as first reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter, Smith broke his left arm in a flag football game. It was the same arm that Smith broke last December, though not in the same place. Last time, it was his forearm.
Schefter's report, in which Smith's injury was disclosed by his agent, specified that Smith suffered the injury in a flag football game that took place during a camp he runs for kids. However, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk now reports that from what he's heard, Smith actually broke his arm in the championship game of an adult flag tournament in which Smith has been a longtime participant.
The difference could be significant if Smith's contract has language prohibiting other specific kinds of athletic activities – it's not uncommon for big-ticket contracts to have language prohibiting player participation in risky athletic endeavors. If Smith had a waiver for his football camp, that might be a reason to float a different story out there. We're not saying that's what happened, but if it did, that would be a possibility.
In late April, Denver Broncos left tackle Ryan Clady tore his patellar tendon in a pickup basketball game and will miss an indeterminate amount of time as he recovers. That's just bad luck; one can only imagine the kinds of tantrums we'd see out of Denver coach Josh McDaniels had Clady been injured in a flag football game. The Carolina brass are more measured in its reactions, but it probably wouldn't be too happy if it went down this way. Stay tuned for more on that part of the story.
Initial reports have Smith undergoing surgery Sunday night and possibly being ready for the start of the regular season. If that's the case, the Panthers need to get a bead on who's going to catch passes from Matt Moore(notes) or Jimmy Clausen(notes) alongside Smith, so there are more opportunities for Dwayne Jarrett(notes), Armanti Edwards(notes) and Brandon LaFell(notes) (as well as the rest of Carolina's relatively anonymous receiver corps) to shine and gain playing time; Edwards is one to watch. The 31-year-old Smith, who led the team with 65 catches for 982 yards and seven touchdowns in 2009, has said that he wants to see another Panthers receiver step up and challenge him for reps and catches. Now, for better or worse, is the time for that to happen.