"We've got guys that can compete with anybody," LaFell told the Charlotte Observer on Wednesday, the same day Smith missed practice because of a foot infection. "I don't feel like there's a secondary that really can stop us because we've got as many guys as anyone else has that can get open and make plays."
Smith's absence is an opportunity for the Panthers' young wideouts to back up LaFell's claims. The team's No. 3 spot currently is up for grabs, and David Gettis and Kealoha Pilares are considered two of the top candidates to fill that role.
Gettis had 37 receptions for 508 yards and three touchdowns in 2010, but missed the following season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament during training camp.
Smith was on crutches during Wednesday's practice, and Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said the star wideout is being treated with antibiotics for an infection stemming from last week's preseason game against the Miami Dolphins. It's unclear if Smith will suit up in Sunday night's game against the New York Jets, but LaFell doesn't anticipate his fellow receiver missing extended time.
"Smitty's like Iron Man," said LaFell, who caught 36 passes for 613 yards and three touchdowns last season. "Smitty'll be hurt today, be feeling great tomorrow. So I'm not worrying about Smitty. He knows how to take care of his body. We'll see him back soon."