Rivalry between Panthers' Smith and Redskins' Hall has dulled

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- There was a time when wide receiver Steve Smith and cornerback DeAngelo Hall had one of the most intense feuds in the NFL.

Perhaps they've matured or time has healed old wounds, but the two veterans seem to have a greater respect for each other as players. So if there's going to be any trash talk between them it will have to come on the field when Smith's Carolina Panthershost Hall and the Washington Redskins on Sunday.

A long-running feud boiled over in 2006 when Hall said Smith scored a "fluke touchdown" against him.

Smith answered by calling Hall a "court jester."

Attacks off the field led to a physical altercation on the field on Sept. 23, 2007, when Smith egged Hall, then a member of the Atlanta Falcons, into three penalties worth 37 yards on the same drive. The meltdown led to the Panthers scoring the tying touchdown in a game they'd go on to win 27-20 at the Georgia Dome. The following week Hall was benched.

The two talked this week like those run-ins were distant memories.

Hall praised his adversary, saying Smith is back at the top of his game. Hall, now in his fourth season with the Redskins, called Smith -- the NFC's leader in yards receiving -- "pound for pound (the) best wide receiver in the game."

He also downplayed their long-running feud while both played in the NFC South.

"I don't think it was ever a level of dislike between us," Hall said. "We're two fierce competitors and we're a lot alike that way. We want to get the best out of each other and try to beat the other one down. That's probably not going to change. It's going to be the same kind of scenario Sunday.

"He's going to come out and try to impose his will on me and I'm going to do likewise."

Smith almost seemed a little taken aback by Hall's compliments, but said he'll approach his old nemesis like it's just another game.

"He's a good opponent and he can play," Smith said. "So you have to be ready to play. But to me it's like playing against Charles Woodson, Brent Grimes, Dunta Robinson or any other cornerback in the league."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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