The team's website called this "good news" because it could have been worse. But don't overlook the importance of this week's game. Carolina needs to win in Atlanta to ensure the NFC South title and a bye in the first round in the playoffs. If the Panthers lose, they risk having to go on the road for a wild card game. A win would also ensure an extra week of rest for Smith to recover.
Carolina's offense has struggled all season to dial-up big plays, and Smith's absence will only make that more difficult. Rivera confirmed Ted Ginn, who is enjoying a nice season, will step into a starting role. Domenik Hixon will move up to the No. 3 receiver spot.