Charlotte, N.C. – Since running back Lamar Smith was charged Thursday night with drunken driving he was put on paid leave by the team Friday for the rest of the season.
Smith will be paid because the team had no other choice. Under league rules, the Panthers could not have released him because of his arrest.
Even if it would have been possible to waive Smith, they would have had to pay his weekly salary of $41,176 for each of the remaining five games.
Coach John Fox met with Smith this morning.
"He made a bad mistake,'' Fox said. "He was embarrassed and very apologetic about it.''
Smith had 737 yards and tied a team record with seven touchdowns rushing. Fox wouldn't say who will replace Lamar Smith in the starting lineup, but it's expected to be Dee Brown, a sixth-round draft pick out of Syracuse last season.
Brown has worked primarily on third downs and in 2-minute drill situations. He has 119 yards rushing on 27 carries and 13 receptions for 67 yards. Nick Goings may also see more playing time.