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Panthers' Steve Smith Has A Sprained PCL

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Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images.
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images.

The Carolina Panthers are heading into their Week 17 regular-season finale against the Atlanta Falcons with Steve Smith “highly doubtful” to play. Smith was injured while running a slant route in the first quarter yesterday, and while he was able to return in the second quarter, he only ran one route before taking himself out of the game.

An MRI revealed that Smith sprained the posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, according to Steve Reed of the Associated Press. There are concerns about his status moving forward with no no guarantees that he returns in time for the playoffs, and it would be a major blow to their playoff hopes.

"They say it's a nothing injury, but I know my knee doesn't feel like it's nothing," Smith said.

"It was very good news considering the alternative," head coach Ron Rivera said. "He's highly doubtful for this week, but it will be week-to-week. There's a lot of good news there."

"We do know Steve. He's tenacious, and he'll do everything he can, believe me. He's going to work very, very hard."

The Panthers were able to overtake the New Orleans Saints for the lead in the NFC South division yesterday, and they can clinch the division title with a win over Atlanta on Sunday. A win next week would also guarantee a first-round playoff bye, so a win next week is crucial for the team.

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

"He told me he doesn't feel very good right now, but you know me. And we do know Steve. He's very tenacious and he will do everything he can. He will work very, very hard."

Smith hasn’t missed a game since 2010, and the impact of his loss was apparent with their offense continually stalling throughout the game. However, they still managed to win on a late touchdown to Domenik Hixon. The team can only hope he recovers in time for their playoff run.