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Steve Smith: Chudzinski auditioned for new job in '12

Before he was the coach of the Cleveland Browns, Rob Chudzinksi oversaw a Cam Newton-led Carolina Panthers offense that ushered in the revival of Steve Smith's career in 2011.

The veteran wide receiver caught 79 passes that season and another 73 in 2012, but Smith told reporters Wednesday that Chud's coaching aspirations dragged the offensive attack into a corner last season.

"The prior offensive coordinator really was positioning himself to just apply for that head-coaching job," Smith said on a conference call, per ESPN.com. "I think our offense suffered a little bit because of that."

Said Smith: "At times, we got cute. We did things that weren't necessarily us, like the under-utilizing of (running back) Mike Tolbert. But we're out of that. The past is the past."

Carolina ranked 12th in total yards and 18th in scoring in 2012, despite just two teams having fewer possessions. That was down from seventh in total yards and fifth in scoring in 2011. Those are the numbers, but Carolina certainly struggled to develop a sustainable run game early last season, largely because of the team's scheme.

The Panthers relied heavily on zone-read runs as their base formation in the ground game, with Newton rarely under center. A surprising 66 percent of Carolina's runs were out of the shotgun entering Week 8. The Panthers adopted a more traditional run game down the stretch, and Newton enjoyed a sneaky-productive second half of the season -- but Smith isn't happy with how it went down.

Knowing Smith, we'll find out soon enough what he thinks about Chud's replacement, offensive wizard Mike Shula.

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