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December 27, 2013

Smith, Stewart out Sunday vs. Falcons

The Panthers will be without three starters Sunday in the regular-season finale at Atlanta, but their status looks promising for the playoffs.

Receiver Steve Smith (knee), running back Jonathan Stewart (knee) and defensive tackle Colin Cole (calf) have been ruled out for the game against the Falcons.

But Panthers coach Ron Rivera seemed optimistic that Smith in particular would be available next week if the Panthers had to play a first-round game as a wild card.

"I'd like to believe so, knowing who he is," Rivera said Friday. "Don't bet against him."

All of the injured players would be better served if the Panthers (11-4) win Sunday to clinch the NFC South and a first-round bye. Smith has a sprained posterior cruciate ligament, an injury that usually takes two to three weeks to heal.

Stewart, who has a partially torn medial collateral ligament, will miss his third consecutive game Sunday. Stewart worked out with a trainer on the sideline Friday, and Rivera said he was excited about his recovery.

Quarterback Cam Newton is probable with an ankle injury he sustained last week against the Saints. Newton was at full participation for both of the Panthers' practices this week.

Backup strong safety Robert Lester is questionable after having his ankle stepped on during Friday's practice.

Marvin McNutt will be active for the first time as the Panthers' No. 4 receiver against the Falcons.

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on December 27, 2013 at 01:35 PM | Permalink


That hit Stewart took on his knee was cheap and unnecessary. I hope he can come back for the playoffs because he was running strong before he took that cheap hit to his knee.

Posted by: Ed | Dec 27, 2013 2:17:03 PM

We just need to win, stay relatively healthy, and get the heck out of town on Sunday...it probably means the difference between a 10% chance to win it all and about 30%.

Posted by: Ryan | Dec 27, 2013 4:41:58 PM

McNutt is money. Get him the ball.

Posted by: willy loman | Dec 27, 2013 6:27:45 PM

Dumb move by the Panthers, never show your cards until you have to, should have kept the Falcons thinking about who would start.

Posted by: Sid Allen | Dec 27, 2013 8:08:11 PM

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