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Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Ricky Proehl back with Panthers

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Some interesting news out of Carolina this afternoon. Soon after hiring Fred Graves as wide receivers coach, the Panthers have announced they’ve also added Ricky Proehl as an offensive consultant.

The team said Proehl’s role primarily will be to work with Graves. I’ll editorialize here since I covered Proehl during his playing days with the Panthers and say this is an excellent move.

Proehl was at the end of his career when he played in Carolina and had a strong presence in the locker room. He was a team leader and often served as a mentor to Steve Smith early in his career. The fact the Panthers are hiring Proehl right after Graves could be taken as a sign that they want to keep Smith happy and in Carolina.

Smith often was frustrated last year as the Panthers struggled to a 2-14 record and endured some horrible quarterback play. Smith has been told by team officials to think about his future. If he wants out, the team will consider trading him.

But Smith never has publicly said he wants to leave Carolina and he already reportedly had a meeting with new offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski.