Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

December 24, 2013

WR Smith doubtful vs. Atlanta with knee sprain

Charlotte, NC. — Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith is “highly doubtful” for Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons with a left knee sprain, coach Ron Rivera said Monday.

However, Rivera said he’s optimistic Smith will be ready for the playoffs.

The Panthers (11-4) wrapped up a playoff spot Sunday with a 17-13 win over New Orleans. They can clinch the NFC South division title and a first-round bye in the playoffs by beating the Falcons.

Smith had an MRI Monday that revealed a sprained posterior cruciate ligament.

“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.”

Rivera said he spoke with Smith on Monday.

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

Rivera said it will be difficult playing without Smith because he draws so much attention from defenses.

Carolina’s offense struggled on Sunday after Smith went out in the first quarter and failed to convert a third down, going 0 for 9. At one point in the second half the Panthers went three-and-out on four straight possessions and managed a combined 16 yards during that span.

The 34-year-old Smith has 64 receptions for 745 yards and four touchdowns this season.

“Steve is still the big focal point of who we play,” Rivera said. “You put the tape on and you still see people matching DBs on him and rolling coverages toward him. That might be something that will be interesting to see what happens — how teams are going to play us. This might be a good thing for us to learn.”

Smith hasn’t missed a game since Week 17 of the 2010 season.

Smith injured the knee Sunday running a slant route in the first quarter and was taken to the locker room for observations. He returned midway through the second quarter and ran one route before taking himself out of the game. He was hobbling noticeably as he walked off the field.

Smith told The Associated Press after the game Sunday that team doctors were concerned about his PCL.

“They say it’s a nothing injury, but I know my knee doesn’t feel like it’s nothing,” Smith said Sunday.

Smith said he felt a “pop” when he first injured the knee.

Players were given the day off Monday.

Smith walked around the locker room after the game without much of a limp and did not need crutches. He did not have his knee in a brace either.

Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula said losing a player like Smith is “a big concern.”

“He is such a warrior on game day and a productive player,” Shula said. “He presents a lot of problems for the defense and gives you a lot of good looks to help other guys play better. It’s time for other guys to step up and be ready. And they’re ready. That was no more evident than Sunday.”

Domenik Hixon replaced Smith at the “X” receiver spot and caught a game-winning 14-yard touchdown pass from Cam Newton with 23 seconds to help the Panthers clinch their first playoff berth since 2008.

Hixon came into the game with just three receptions all year and no touchdowns.

Rivera said he expects Ted Ginn Jr. will see the majority of reps this week at Smith’s spot, but said Hixon and Brandon LaFell could also see action at the “X” spot. Shula said the team is likely to activate wide receiver Marvin McNutt as its No. 4 receiver.

Rivera said Newton tweaked his ankle on Sunday, but the third-year quarterback is walking around fine and is expected to practice Tuesday.

Defensive tackle Colin Cole is day to day with a strained calf.

1
Text Only
Local Sports
  • rachel.jpg Factor X Fitness holds Fitness Classic

    South Georgia is on the verge of muscling its way back into the national bodybuilding scene, ending a lengthy absence.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • No. 21 Blazer Softball faces Lee in regular season finale

    Expect Blazer Nation to be out at Steel's Diamond at Blazer Park in full force today and Saturday to watch their No. 21 Valdosta State softball team take on the Lee Lady Flames in the final series of the 2014 regular season.

    April 18, 2014

  • VHSsigning.jpg Goals Achieved

    The Valdosta High Wildcats hosted a scholarship signing ceremony for senior soccer player Dale Fulton Kent on Thursday afternoon in the schools’ Performing Arts Center.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • MLS.jpg Atlanta lands MLS expansion team for 2017

    Arthur Blank donned traditional soccer garb to mark his newest venture — an MLS team for Atlanta.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Blazers try to garner momentum in GSC finale

    Valdosta State snapped its six-game losing streak a week ago. Now the Blazers are hoping to wrap up its Gulf South Conference schedule with some momentum ahead of next month’s conference tournament.

    April 17, 2014

  • Blazer barrage downs No. 23 Georgia College

    Valdosta State unleashed a season-high 19 hits and tied a season-best in runs as the Blazers defeated No. 23 Georgia College 15-8 in non-conference baseball action at John Kurtz Field Wednesday evening.

    April 17, 2014

  • 2014 Jump.jpg Showtime in the Down Under

    Just a junior in high school, Valwood’s Chandler Cargile has already seen things that most people don’t get to experience in a lifetime. Cargile recently returned to Lake Park from Mulwala, Australia, where he competed in the Barefoot Water Ski World Championships. The competition hosted participants from 15 countries and lasted for two weeks last month.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Valdosta State tennis gears up for GSC Tournament

    The Valdosta State men's and women's tennis teams are set to compete against the rest of the league in the Gulf South Conference Tournament, scheduled to be played this week in Montgomery, Ala. for the seventh straight season.

    April 17, 2014

  • Kaleb Whitfield against Crisp.jpg No Dome for Wildcats in Corky Kell Classic

    Valdosta High’s chance of playing in the Georgia Dome this year now depends on reaching the state championship game.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140416-SGMC_Award002.jpg SGMC earns VISTA Award

    South Georgia Medical Center was awarded Wednesday with an American Society for Healthcare Engineering Vista Award.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

Blazers Blog
More