Cam Newton, Torrey Smith support Eric Reid: ‘We got a steal’

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Eric Reid still hasn’t said whether he will take a knee or partake in another kind of protest against social injustice during the national anthem on Sunday prior to his first game for the Carolina Panthers.

The free safety’s new teammates aren’t worried about what he will do.

“Hey, no one cares,” wide receiver Torrey Smith said on Wednesday as the Panthers prepared for the visiting New York Giants (1 p.m. ET, Fox). “It’s not like he’s out there and coach calls Cover 3 or man-to-man, he’s going to take a knee and let his guy run by. If that was the issue, it would be a problem.

“Eric knows what’s best for Eric and what Eric needs to do. We all understand what he’s fighting for, so if that’s something he decides to do, that’s what he decides to do. But that has absolutely nothing to do with this locker room, the way we approach the game, the way we prepare and what we’re trying to do.”

Ditto, said quarterback Cam Newton, who said signing Reid, 26, was “the right move” after the Panthers lost Da’Norris Searcy (concussion) for the season.

He went so far as to say “we got a steal” in Reid.8

“We have great players in this locker room and we’ve accepted him with open arms,” Newton said. “I was thinking to myself. I hope he was and is as excited as everyone is at having him. He’s a very young, talented football player that has a lot of talent left in his body. For him to be on our team is a great thing.

“…I’m going to stand by him knowing none of that will be a distraction for us winning football games.”

Reid went the entire offseason and the first three weeks of the 2018 NFL season without being signed. He claimed in his collusion grievance against the NFL that it was because in 2016 he was the first player to join former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick in kneeling during the anthem to protest police brutality and social injustice.

He still feels strongly about social injustice and said on Monday that he’s still considering ways to protest.

But that hasn’t been a distraction for the Panthers (2-1) and it probably won’t become one because of strong locker room leadership with Newton, Smith, linebacker Luke Kuechly, defensive end Julius Peppers and center Ryan Kalil.

This is one of the oldest locker rooms in the NFL with an average age of 26.8 heading into the season. It is one that has developed a culture the past seven years that coach Ron Rivera often refers to when talking about having success despite adversity.

This is a locker room that in 2014 made the playoffs despite the intense media attention surrounding defensive end Greg Hardy and his domestic abuse case. This is a locker room that in the past eight months has seen team owner Jerry Richardson accused of sexual and workplace misconduct and forced to sell the team he founded.