Clifton Smith feeling better, said Wesley apologized for hit
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Pro Bowl kick returner Clifton Smith, who suffered a concussion Sunday, said he's feeling good after a "rough couple of days."
Smith hasn't practiced since, and doesn't know when he will, but he hopes he can play Sunday against the Patriots.
“I was definitely worried afterwards, but it wasn’t as bad as lot of people thought it was," Smith said. "It's football, things happen. Bounce back, and I’m good to go.”
The hit certainly looked bad when it happened, as the Panthers Dante Wesley launched himself into Smith with an illegal hit that left the unsuspecting second-year return man with a concussion and injured throat. As Smith lay motionless on the field, his teammates rushed to his defense, calling it a cheap shot. Wesley was penalized and ejected from the game, and later suspended one game by the NFL.
Smith said Wesley called him and apologized, and he accepted his apology. Smith said it was like Wesley said: He was trying to make a play, and it was part of the game.
"It's football, just like Raheem (Morris) said, 'Gunfighters get shot sometimes.' I took mine on the chin and move forward from there."
Smith said he doesn't remember much from the hit; "Next thing I know, I had doctors in my face, that's all I really know about it. I really didn't realize what happened until I went home and watched it."
Smith said he suffered from headaches in the next couple days after the hit, but said he feels like he can play now. Smith said the team is holding him out of practice as a precaution, which he understands, and when he gets to play again, Sunday's viscious hit won't enter his mind.
"You can't be scared to play this game, you can't worry about it," Smith said. "I’ll just still trust my teammates to do their job and they expect me to do mine, so I’ll just take it from there."
-- JOE SMITH, Times Staff Writer