The Panthers have a lot of reasons to be optimistic this week despite an 0-5 record.
Foremost among them: it looks like wide receiver Steve Smith will make a surprisingly early return from a high ankle sprain.
Smith returned to practice on Wednesday, less than three weeks after suffering a high ankle sprain. He’s traditionally been a fast healer and it looks like he will suit up Sunday, according to the Gaston Gazette.
Matt Moore returns at quarterback for Carolina this week. It probably wasn’t an easy decision for John Fox to make — he’s essentially admitting a mistake going to Jimmy Clausen — but it was the right move. Clausen gave the team no shot.
With a matchup against the one win 49ers on the docket this week, it wouldn’t surprise us at all if the Panthers’ positive week ends in a win.