After the Panthers’ practice Wednesday, Steve Smith said his knee was 71 percent healed. However, after today’s practice, that number is down to 57 percent,Carolina Panthers reporter David Newton. ” href=”http://espn.go.com/nfl/playoffs/2013/story/_/id/10270086/steve-smith-carolina-panthers-downgrades-playing-chances”> per ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter David Newton. Thursday was only Smith’s second practice since spraining his PCL in Week 16 against the Saints.
Smith came out of today’s practice saying that it did not go well, and that he overdid it. Panthers head coach Ron Rivera backed up Smith’s statements, but did not sound as concerned about the injury.
Even though an injury getting worse is never a good sign, I don’t see Smith missing Sunday’s game versus the 49ers. He’s the second leading receiver behind tight end Greg Olsen, and just as importantly, he is the veteran leader and heart and soul of this Panthers team. Smith is one of the few Panthers players left from their 2008 trip to the playoffs and is even on a shorter list of Panthers left from their 2003 trip to the Super Bowl.
If Smith cannot go, expect the 49ers defense to really lock down on Greg Olsen, which will put tremendous pressure on Ted Ginn and Brandon LaFell. Although Cam Newton and the Carolina offense didn’t get much going in their Week 10 win against San Fransisco, Smith was the top Panthers wideout, with six catches for 63 yards.