CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Carolina Panthers receiver Steve Smith will miss the start of training camp with a broken left forearm.
Blame it on a game of flag football with kids.
Playing the non-contact brand of football with children at his camp Saturday, the four-time Pro Bowl pick fell and fractured his left arm. He'll 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.
"They were messing around, the ball went over his head and he slipped," agent Derrick Fox said Monday. "He put his arm out to brace himself. When he did he felt a sharp pain. 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.
"Steve talked to me and he feels terrible about it," Panthers general manager Marty 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.