Forget the percentages, Steve Smith said he was ready to go all week. He was a man of his word.
The Carolina Panthers declared Smith active Sunday morning. The wide receiver had told a close friend Saturday that he's "positive" he'll play against the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday's divisional round playoff, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport said on "NFL GameDay First."
Smith's participation is crucial for a 29th-ranked passing game that would emerge as the lowest-ranked air attack to play in the Super Bowl should the Panthers get that far. Carolina's postseason journey starts Sunday against a 49ers defense that's allowed the fewest points per game (14.9) in the NFL since Week 4.
Running back Jonathan Stewart, however, is not active for the game. That's a surprise after he practiced fully all week. Carolina's running game has done just fine without Stewart since he tore his MCL back in Week 14. DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert will carry the load.
Here are the rest of the divisional round injury updates:
2. Rapoport also reported that the San Diego Chargers expect Ryan Mathews to play on his sprained ankle. The team's workhorse running back is officially active after he didn't practice all week, a departure from his typical schedule of working out Fridays. Mathews led the league in carries over the final five weeks of the season for a run-heavy Chargers outfit that's averaged 39 attempts per game since Week 13.
4. Rapoport tweeted that Patriots punter Ryan Allen is scheduled for a Sunday morning MRI after suffering a shoulder injury in New England's playoff win over the Indianapolis Colts. The team doesn't believe Allen broke anything, according to RapSheet. Allen's departure from the game forced Tom Brady into the lineup to hold for a pair of extra points.