(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) — Carolina Panthers receiver Steve Smith is expected to miss the team’s regular-season finale versus the Atlanta Falcons due to a sprained left knee.
Smith injured the knee in the first half of the Panthers’ win over the Saints Sunday while jumping to attempt to catch a pass. Smith was able to walk off the field and even attempted to return but after struggling to run a route, he was sent to the locker room and declared out for the game.
Smith had an MRI on Monday, revealing he has a sprained posterior cruciate ligament. The injury isn’t considered very serious, but Panthers head coach Ron Rivera says it is “highly doubtful” Smith will play Sunday.
Still, Rivera said Smith’s situation is “very optimistic as we go forward.”
Smith is second on the team in receptions with 64 this season. Ted Ginn Jr. is expected to take over Smith’s role.
With a win Sunday over the Falcons, the Panthers (11-4) would clinch a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs.
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Jill Martin, CNN