Delhomme feels Panthers won't let fight slow them down

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- When Steve Smith punched teammate Ken Lucas during a break in practice last week, Jake Delhomme knew the incident could tear apart the Carolina Panthers.

Smith, the team's top offensive weapon, was suspended for the first two regular-season games after breaking Lucas' nose. The starting cornerback will be out a couple weeks.

The potential was there to hold grudges, take sides and lose focus. Delhomme feels his teammates have avoided all those potential pitfalls.

"I don't know if you put a letter grade on it or a number from 1 to 10, it's been fantastic," Delhomme said Thursday. "That was a rough deal, everybody knows that. I really truly believe we have the right guys in the right areas on this team to get everything out in the open.

"Guys talked, Steve knew he did wrong. But the biggest thing out of all of them was Ken Lucas. For Ken Lucas to get up here, guys could really release a lot of emotions about listening to Ken and feeling how he felt," he said.

Smith has since apologized to the team and has been noticeably less feisty in practice. But there are questions of whether Smith, who has a history of playing his best when he's angry, will lose his edge.

"I know the question you're saying. But when Steve came out of his mom, he had that edge," Delhomme said. "I truly believe that. Guys feed off Steve when Steve plays -- offensively, defensively, everybody feeds off Steve. That is just my opinion. I know when the lights come on he will still be the same Steve."