Easy Call on Panthers Comeback Player of 2011: WR Steve Smith

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 1: Steve Smith #89 of the Carolina Panthers makes a catch for a touchdown against Jabari Greer #33 of the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 1, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

After four straight 1,000 yard receiving seasons from 2005 to 2008 Panthers WR Steve Smith fell short in 2009 (994) and then even further in 2010 (554). Of course you could argue that it was mainly due to QB problems and offensive game planning but I find that irrelevant to this award. I say that because Smith literally did come back, to the Panthers that is when he indicated he would prefer to leave. Enter rookie QB Cam Newton.

Smith returned to WR greatness behind the arm of the rookie sensation and the production followed. Smith came within 27 yards of his career high in receiving yards with 1,396 yards and 7 TDs, good for 5th in the NFL for the season. Smith was as dynamic as ever, always a threat to make the big catch, the tough catch, the catch only elite WRs can make. If you need evidence look no further than the season finale against the Saints. On his franchise record 697 reception he snatched a ball throw behind him on a sideline route and still managed to keep both feet in while falling out of bounds.

So congratulations to Smitty on his most excellent season and thanks again for returning to Carolina. I trust you are here to stay!

When the NFL looks at awarding its comeback player of the year I think Smith should at least get a mention. I know QB Alex Smith might get a good look but my comment there what is coming back from? Alex Smith has never been good until this season...but I digress.

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