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Steve Smith has sprained knee ligament; 'highly doubtful' for Panthers game versus Falcons

By JOSEPH PERSON
jperson@charlotteobserver.com
1223panthers_318
David T. Foster, III - dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com
Carolina Panthers' Steve Smith (89) reaches for his knee after a play in the first half against the New Orleans Saints at Bank of America Stadium on December 22, 2013. The Panthers won 17-13

Panthers receiver Steve Smith has a sprained posterior cruciate ligament and will be evaluated on a week-to-week basis, coach Ron Rivera said Monday.

Smith is "highly doubtful" to play Week 17 at Atlanta, but Rivera said the news could have been worse.

"It was very good news considering the alternative," Rivera said. "Where he sprained it and how lack of severity there was, that was all positive news. It really was. And I’m excited and very happy with Steve."

Smith was injured while planting to jump for a Cam Newton pass in the first quarter Sunday against the Saints. He returned for one play in the second quarter before limping off the field.

Smith was at Bank of America Stadium receiving treatment Monday after undergoing an MRI exam.

"He said well it doesn’t feel very good right now, coach," Rivera said. "We do know Steve. Steve’s tenacious and he’ll do everything he can. He’s going to work very, very hard."

In the meantime, Ted Ginn Jr. will slide into Smith's spot as the X receiver, so No. 2 receiver Brandon LaFell won't have to learn another spot. Domenik Hixon, who caught the game-winning touchdown pass against the Saints, will step in as the No. 3 receiver.

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