Julius Peppers was the face of the Carolina Panthers defense during his eight seasons in Charlotte. But receiver Steve Smith, the face of the Panthers offense, still remains a fan of his former teammate.
"My respect for Pep does not leave just because he leaves this team," said Smith, who is not expected to play Sunday because of a high ankle sprain. "He's a great player, despite what people may say about him. In whatever city, you can't take away that he's a player, and he's been a player since Day One. Like everybody else, he's had down years, and he's having an up year."
Smith, who has topped 1,000 receiving yards in four of the last five seasons, will be sorely missed by a Panthers offense that was already struggling to air the ball out. He led the team in catches (13) and receiving yards (174) and he has two of the team's three receiving touchdowns.
The Panthers also released 2007 second-round pick Dwayne Jarrett earlier in the week, after a DUI arrest.
That means former Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen, a rookie, will have to to be resourceful with unheralded receivers and his veteran tight ends.
In other words, the Bears defense can expect to see plenty of plays to Panthers running backs Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams and even Mike Goodson.