Panthers: Reid’s return won’t be a distraction
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 AfricanAmerican, 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.
Things to watch in Sunday’s game:
ON THE RUN
Giants coach Pat Shurmur admittedly didn’t use rookie Saquon Barkley enough in the loss to the Saints last weekend. The running game was limited to 65 yards on 15 carries. Barkley had 44 yards on 10 carries, with 28 coming on a sprint around end. New York usually doesn’t win unless it can establish some kind of run game to set up the play-action pass. Expect Barkley to either double his carries this week or have backup Wayne Gallman carry more than twice. The Panthers are allowing 110 yards per game on the ground.
Jonathan Stewart, Carolina’s all-time leading rusher, was placed on injured reserve last week by New York.
The Giants are optimistic that outside linebacker Olivier Vernon will see his first action of the season after a strong week of practice. Shurmur thinks that could give the defense a boost, saying “when you have a fresh body that has the talent, the skill and abilities of a pass rusher, it helps your defense. Certainly adding him back to the mix will help.”
In this Sept. 10, 2017, file photo, then- 49ers safety Eric Reid (35) kneels in front of teammates during the playing of the national anthem before a game.