Steve Smith doubtful this week, could return for playoffs

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The news on Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith is probably as good as could be expected.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera told reporters that Smith sprained his PCL in his left knee yesterday, and was very doubtful to play in the regular season finale against the Falcons.

But Rivera still called it “very good news,” and that a return in the playoffs is still a possibility.

The Panthers might get through the Falcons without him, but the prospect of going deep in the playoffs with a receiving corps of Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn and Domenik Hixon is a hard sell.

Of course, that adds an element of intensity to Sunday’s game, as the Panthers could lock up a needed bye week by beating the Falcons (or with a Saints loss to the Buccaneers).

Giving Smith three weeks before he had to try it would be a nice boost, one the Panthers need.