A Clausen-Smith rift in Carolina?

A few days after he shouted angrily at Panthers rookie Jimmy Clausen on the sideline, wide receiver Steve Smith tries to diffuse any notion that he was about to 'go off' on the rookie quarterback.

One thing Jimmy Clausen will have to learn about wide receivers is that they're divas. Well, maybe not all of them, but you could start a pretty good list with these players: Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco, Brandon Marshall, Steve Smith.

For the most part, they're happy when they get the ball. When they don't, you might need a Richter Scale to measure the unhappiness of some of them.

Clausen, considered something of a diva himself in his Notre Dame days, found this out last Sunday in the Carolina Panthers' 20-7 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. At one point, while Clausen was talking to an assistant coach, Smith walked over and began screaming at the rookie quarterback. He left but returned a few moments later to say something else. Teammate Jeff King escorted him away.

"That's just Steve," Clausen said after the game. "He's a fiery guy … just being competitive and wanting the ball and trying to make plays."

Did the media make too much of it? On Wednesday, Smith tried to downplay the incident, although he might have been justified after catching just three balls for 22 yards. A Clausen pass in the red zone, intended for Smith, was intercepted.

"It was said that I was just about to ‘go off' and I wasn't," Smith said after practice. "I thought it was interesting because here I was obviously agitated and frustrated, but sometimes people think they know me better than I know myself. I think that's a joke and I think the people that reported it are jokes."

OK, so maybe he has a point. But the media can only report what it sees. And if it sees a player with a reputation for being hot-headed act in a hot-headed manner, it's right to report it.

Anyway, Clausen and Smith will have a chance to mend fences this weekend. Clausen, who was 16 of 33 for 188 yards and one interception against the Bengals, will make his second NFL start Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.

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