Pan­thers say Reid’s re­turn won’t be dis­trac­tion vs. Gi­ants

Greenwich Time (Sunday) - - SPORTS -

CHAR­LOTTE, N.C. — Wide re­ceiver Tor­rey Smith chuck­led at the no­tion that Eric Reid‘s re­turn to the NFL this week might be a dis­trac­tion for the Carolina Pan­thers on Sun­day when they host the New York Gi­ants.

Smith said Reid’s stance on racial in­jus­tice hasn’t been an is­sue in the locker room, adding that “no one cares” if he kneels or not dur­ing the na­tional an­them.

He said Reid’s new team­mates are more ea­ger to see what he does on the field rather than what he does be­fore the game.

“It’s not like he’s out there and coach calls ‘Cover 3’ and he’s go­ing to take a knee and let a guy run by him. If that was the is­sue, it would be a prob­lem,” Smith said with a laugh. “But that’s not the way it works. Eric knows what is best for Eric and we all know what he is fight­ing for.”

Reid, who knelt along­side Colin Kaeper­nick in San Fran­cisco dur­ing the na­tional an­them to bring at­ten­tion to racial and so­cial in­jus­tice, hasn’t said if he will demon­strate Sun­day in his first game since fil­ing a col­lu­sion griev­ance against the NFL al­leg­ing that teams wouldn’t sign him be­cause of his protest­ing.

Re­gard­less of Reid’s be­liefs, the Pan­thers (2-1) are ex­cited to have the 2013 Pro Bowler, who is ex­pected to start at safety af­ter Da’Nor­ris Searcy was placed on in­jured re­serve last week with a con­cus­sion.

Cam New­ton said the Pan­thers “got a steal” when they signed the 26-year-old Reid.

“He’s a great player,” New­ton said. “We’ve ac­cepted him with open arms. We know he’s go­ing to be an im­pact player for us, and that’s all I care about.”

Reid, who is African-Amer­i­can, said af­ter sign­ing a one-year con­tract with Carolina that he plans to “con­tinue to speak for my peo­ple” and use his plat­form to talk about in­jus­tices.

“I’m go­ing to stand by him and none of that will be a dis­trac­tion as far as us win­ning foot­ball games,” New­ton said. “What he does on the foot­ball field is go­ing to im­pact this team. I know that.”

FA­MIL­IAR FACES

When Pan­thers mid­dle line­backer Luke Kuechly turned on the film this week, he saw plenty of fa­mil­iar plays be­ing run by the Gi­ants. New York’s of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor is Mike Shula, who worked as Carolina’s of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor from 2013-17. So Kuechly saw just about ev­ery one of Shula’s play calls over the last five years in prac­tice.

Of course, what Kuechly didn’t see too much of on tape this week were zone read op­tions, some­thing Shula ran fre­quently with New­ton as his quar­ter­back. That’s not some­thing the Gi­ants are run­ning with the slow­footed Eli Man­ning at the helm. “If Eli runs like Cam does, then we are in trou­ble,” Kuechly said.

Mov­ing the ball and scor­ing points has been a strug­gle this sea­son for the Gi­ants un­der Shula.

Marcio Jose Sanchez / As­so­ci­ated Press

In this Sept. 10, 2017, file photo, then-San Fran­cisco 49ers safety Eric Reid (35) kneels in front of team­mates dur­ing the play­ing of the na­tional an­them be­fore a game against the Carolina Pan­thers, in Santa Clara, Calif. Reid will be on the field for the first time with the Carolina Pan­thers af­ter fil­ing a griev­ance against the NFL and sign­ing a one-year con­tract.

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