Quotes and Notes--The Panthers can forget about a late season boost from wide receiver Steve Smith.
The team went ahead and did the expected on Wednesday, placing Smith on injured reserve. He marks the second huge offensive contributor to be added to that list this week, joining running back DeShaun Foster.
"He's not going to be out of the boot for a couple of more weeks, and we are by no means trying to hurry him back," coach John Fox said. "Just like with all of our injuries, we are trying to get them recouped the best we can. We've got some injuries and we need the roster spot."
The Panthers were holding out a glimmer of hope that Smith might be an exceptionally quick healer and could return at some point in December.
However, after meeting with team doctors on Wednesday, Smith was informed that it would be almost impossible to come back and play later this year, even in the unlikely event the Panthers (1-5) were to turn things around and make the playoffs.
"We were going to try to hold that spot as long as possible," Fox said. "He knew that and we knew that. With our injury situation, we needed a roster spot to carry over in some other areas. He was going to be (out) an extended amount of time, and it was a decision we had to make."
Smith, who turned in a breakout season last year with 88 receptions for 1,110 yards and seven touchdowns, broke his leg in the first game of the season after a stellar training camp for the Panthers.
"I thought that there may be a chance that he could come back this year, you know, with those type of injuries I've heard that you can recover, but it is highly improbable," said fellow receive Muhsin Muhammad. "My prayers go out to Steve. I was hoping that he could return."
Quarterback Jake Delhomme said he hates that his favorite receiver is gone for the year but added it's something the team can't dwell on.
"It's just one of those things where you've got to keep going and give other guys opportunities," Delhomme said. "The guys that have been here, you've just got to keep doing what you're doing and don't do too much. When DeShaun hurt himself in the Denver game, on the sideline, I said, 'He's out, but so what? We've got to get it done some kind of way.' "
Smith becomes the seventh Carolina player to be placed on injured reserve list already this season, joining Foster, defensive tackle Kris Jenkins, defensive end Kavika Pittman, safeties William Hampton and Damien Richardson and linebacker Jessie Armstead. Two others, guard Bruce Nelson and receiver Drew Carter, are on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list.
--The Panthers replaced Smith on the 53-man roster with cornerback Eddie Jackson, who was called up from the practice squad.
--Running back Brandon Bennett, who began practicing with his new teammates on Wednesday, said he worked out for six teams since being cut by Tampa Bay back in August. He signed with Carolina on Tuesday.
"You get aggravated, and you are sitting there and games are going on and people are calling and somebody went down and have you talked to this team or that team," Bennett said. "It was getting aggravating, but you have to keep on doing the things that you did to get you there."
Fox said Bennett would be among those working on kickoff returns this week in practice.
--Center Jeff Mitchell said he was pleasantly surprised at how well rookie Travelle Wharton played at left guard last week.
"I was expecting chaos and all kind of stuff coming from the left side, typical rookie stuff," Mitchell said. "And he played very well. He was very calm. He knew what was going on, and it was just a pleasure to play next to him. It's good to know we've got another guy that can step in and play."
When an optimistic reporter asked Mitchell if the Panthers might be building a pretty good offensive line for the future with some good young players, Mitchell quickly threw a wet towel on that notion.
"No, it's too early for that," Mitchell said. "Way too early. We're rotating guys. (Right tackle) Todd (Fordham)'s only been here, what, three weeks? I wouldn't go so far to say we've got a dynasty going."