CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Carolina Panthers receiver Steve Smith will miss the start of training camp with a broken left forearm.
Blame it on a mysterious game of flag football.
Smith’s agent, Derrick Fox, initially said Monday that the four-time Pro Bowl pick was injured when he slipped playing with children at Smith’s camp over the weekend.
Later in the day, Fox said he wasn’t sure if it was a flag football game with kids or adults, raising questions if Smith may have violated his contract if he was involved in a game with adults.
Smith will be sidelined for at least the first couple of weeks of camp, but is expected to be ready for the season opener Sept. 12 at the New York Giants.
“He put his arm out to brace himself. When he did he felt a sharp pain,” Fox said. “He went in (Sunday) afternoon to have an X-ray and it showed a break.”
Smith had surgery Sunday night to have a small plate and screws inserted in his arm. Fox said while it’s the same arm he broke at the end of last season, it’s in a different spot and not his wrist. Smith suffered no nerve damage, is expected to make a full recovery and could return as soon as midway through the preseason.
Smith annually hosts a youth football camp in Charlotte which began Thursday, the day after the Panthers concluded voluntary spring workouts.
Fox said he had no knowledge of Smith playing in a flag football league, but was sure the Panthers would not take action against his contract since he’ll be ready for the start of the season. Standard NFL contracts bar playing football outside of team settings.
Panthers general manager Marty Hurney didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment, but did release a statement.
“Steve talked to me and he feels terrible about it,” Hurney said. “Now his focus is on rehabilitating process and getting back as quickly as he can.”
The 31-year-old Smith ranks first in team history with 58 touchdowns and 32 games of 100 or more yards receiving. Smith, who led the NFL in catches, yards receiving and touchdown catches in 2005, had 65 catches for 982 yards and seven touchdowns in 15 games last season.
His absence from the start of camp on July 28 will coincide with major changes made at quarterback for Carolina. The Panthers released longtime starter Jake Delhomme, promoted Matt Moore to starter and drafted Jimmy Clausen of Notre Dame in the second round.
The Panthers also enter the season looking for a No. 2 receiver after Muhsin Muhammad wasn’t re-signed and then retired.