So far in camp, Panthers WR Steve Smith's routes have been precise, his hands certain and his timing uncanny.
But what distinguishes him is quickness. I'm not talking about speed. Speed is the time required to run from A to B. Quickness is the time required to take the first step.
At 30, an age when Smith has more football behind him than in front of him, he goes zero-to-60 faster than anybody on the roster.
But he is more than an athlete. On Tuesday, Smith runs a little route, a defender with him, and the ball comes anyway. The best two times to throw to Smith are when he's covered and when he's not.
The defender reads him, but Smith gives nothing away. Smith doesn't even appear to see the pass. A moment before the ball arrives he drops his hands slightly, almost imperceptibly. The catch is so subtle the defender doesn't know Smith has the ball.
Based on what I see, and on what I hear in our lone one-on-one conversation in camp, I would contend there's a peace about Smith.
The New Steve: Take 27.
But I'm guessing.
This might be nothing more than Carolina's best player putting himself in position to have his best season.