CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith said Thursday his injured left knee isn't coming along quite as well as he'd hoped.
Smith practiced for the second straight day on a limited basis, saying,
"It didn't feel as great as I thought it'd feel."
He said he "overdid it a little" in practice.
Smith estimates he's "57 percent" healthy, down from 71 percent he
mentioned on Wednesday.
As for whether he'll play Sunday against the 49ers in the NFC
divisional playoffs, Smith said "I'll have to see" on Friday.
Coach Ron Rivera expressed some concern, saying Smith didn't look as
sharp Thursday in practice as he normally does.
you watch Steve and watch the way he does things, there's a smoothness
to his movements and stuff — and it's not quite there yet," Rivera said.
Smith said the primary issue is his cutting ability while running
"I'll be all right," he said. "I'm going to need some treatment."
At 34, Smith remains an integral part of Carolina's offense.
franchise's all-time leader in receptions, yards receiving and
touchdowns finished the season with 64 catches for 745 yards and four
touchdowns. He's also valuable in that he often requires double
coverage, thus opening up things for other receivers as well as the
team's running backs.
He's also the only wide receiver on the Carolina roster with any
significant playoff experience.
eight postseason games, Smith has 47 receptions for 782 yards receiving
and seven touchdowns and has played in a Super Bowl. He's also run for
one score and returned a punt for another touchdown in the postseason.
Smith had six catches for 63 yards in Carolina's 10-9 win over the
49ers on Nov. 10 in San Francisco.
problems began when he sprained his posterior cruciate ligament while
running a route in the first quarter of Carolina's Week 16 game against
New Orleans. He returned for one play but then left again and did not
return, limping off the field and into the locker room.
out the following game against Atlanta and had hoped that with a
first-round bye he would return to form for the playoffs.
said Thursday "there's always a chance" that Smith doesn't play Sunday
and the team has contingency plans in case he's unable to play.
not his normal self yet, but he was out there," Rivera said. "He did
things he was supposed to do. We'll see how he feels tomorrow. He came
in and felt a little sore" after practice.
The Panthers are more optimistic about getting running back Jonathan Stewart back on the field Sunday.
who has missed the last three games with a torn ligament in his knee,
said he's feeling stronger and expects to play against the 49ers.
"I definitely have a burst, and rehab was good to me," Stewart said.
But he also said he's not pain-free.
"Pain is something I'll have to deal with," Stewart said.
said he felt fortunate that he didn't tear his ACL, which would have
ended his season, and required surgery and months of intense
rehabilitation. He said he won't need surgery to repair the existing
Stewart has only played in six games this season for the
Panthers after missing the first seven games with an ankle injury. He
has run for 180 yards on 48 carries this season.
Panthers WR Smith: Injured knee feeling worse
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